NOFF challenges EPA Director on salmon mortalities transparency and reporting compliance

NOFF challenges Wes Ford, EPA Director, on the transparency and reporting compliance involved in salmon mortalities at Tassal's Oakhampton Bay lease. Our letter to Mr Ford follows his interview on ABC local radio where he set out the very limited and unsatisfactory industry reporting requirements:

Dear Wes,

Having heard you speak on ABC radio in Hobart on Thursday, It seems that any new regime of "transparency" on the part of the regulator is a hope in vain.

Offered an opportunity to report openly on what is happening in Tasmanian public waterways in the salmon industry you squandered it.

For example, when Leon Compton asked you "how many fish died", you responded:

"Companies are not required to report the actual numbers of fish that die as part of that process, they're only required to report when the mortalities exceeds the threshold level."

Only partly true. A more forthright response would have declared the combined weight of salmon morts as per "Environmental Standards for Tasmanian Marine Finfish Farming 2023" viz:

"The licence holder must keep records of the combined weight of dead fish arising from marine finfish farms each month and must submit this information to the Director within 14 days of the end of each month."

So what tonnage of fish has been reported as having died? Or has Tassal failed to comply with the regulation to report?

It is of increasing concern that the multinationals that now own the industry are even less open to scrutiny than when Huon and Tassal at least had to report annually to the Australian stock exchange. Worse, the multinationals now hide behind a well-funded, politically-connected lobby group, Salmon Tasmania that proactively sets out to obscure relevant information and behind which the companies shelter from scrutiny.

It's deeply concerning the EPA gives every appearance of playing defence for an industry that even the Primary Industry minister acknowledges no longer has social licence.

What a disappointment for the new regime of "transparency" when Tasmanians have every right to expect a truly independent EPA to be a staunch defender of Tasmania's environment and marine heritage against the the demands of the salmon industry, its lobbyists and its political supporters.


Peter George

President, NOFF