Salmon escape in the Huon? Who is responsible?
"There must have been a salmon escape … you'll catch those things all day long" -Fishing guru Nick Crawford 18 August 2023 on ABC Radio Hobart with Leon Compton.
ABC Radio Hobart reported anglers catching Atlantic Salmon below the bridge in Huonville. Tassal and Huon Aquaculture, both now owned by overseas companies, have net pens in the Huon River. Their lease conditions require them to report escapes of more than 500 fish to the EPA within 24 hours. Wes Ford, Director of the EPA, confirmed in the afternoon of 18 August 2023 that they had not received any reports.
There are no Australian studies of any scientific rigor on escaped salmon, to assess predation on native wildlife, and ecological threat. An IMAS study in 2022 relied only on the self-reported observations of recreational fishers. Overseas research found that within two weeks, up to 40% of escaped salmon were successfully foraging on native wildlife.
"We ask Huon and Tassal, has there been a recent escape from your pens in the Huon River? How many fish have escaped your feedlots in the past month?" says Jessica Coughlan, Campaigner at Neighbours of Fish Farming.
"We ask the EPA: what fines can be imposed for Atlantic salmon escapes in our native waterways? What steps if any will the EPA take to investigate this report? Or does the EPA only respond if and when the salmon companies bother to report?"