Salmon industry a “catastrophic” threat to Tasmanian Maugen skate.


Salmon industry a "catastrophic" threat to Tasmanian living dinosaurs: new Government advice. Supermarkets urged to halt sale of some salmon products.

  • Federal government advice released today upgrades warning of impacts of salmon industry on endangered Maugean Skate to "catastrophic".
  • 34,000 people join campaign calling for supermarkets to stop sale of products sourced from Macquarie Harbour, the skate's only known habitat.
  • Supermarket's position equivalent to "having rhino horn on their shelves", campaigners say.

New advice released today by the Federal Government warns that the presence of industrial salmon farms in Tasmania's Macquarie Harbour presents a "catastrophic" threat to the endangered Maugean Skate.

The advice comes on the same day that global consumer group Ekō, along with N, Living Oceans and the Bob Brown Foundation have launched an urgent campaign calling on Woolworths, Coles and ALDI to halt the sale of salmon and ocean trout sourced from Macquarie Harbour, the last habitat of the skate.

Salmon farming in the harbour has expanded greatly since 2009 and the waste and uneaten food from fish farms is contributing to dangerously low oxygen levels which threaten to suffocate the skate. The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies found that the number of skate had fallen by nearly half in seven years.

The calls come following the extraordinary intervention of more than 80 organisations from around the globe calling for seafood accreditation schemes to revoke their 'sustainability' certifications from salmon and trout farmed in Macquarie Harbour. Given consumers cannot tell from packets if products are sourced from Macquarie Harbour shoppers are being urged to call on the supermarkets – which do have the ability to trace and exclude – to take action.

Quote attributable to Nish Humphreys, campaigner at consumer group Ekō:

"Like the Tasmanian Tiger, the last of which died on this day 87 years ago, the Maugean Skate is a precious piece of our ancient natural history. Unlike the tassie tiger it is within our power today to protect it. This new conservation advice is welcome but the skate can't wait. The industrial fish farms on Macquarie Harbour stop operating when their biggest buyers stop buying.
"For the skate to survive, the fish farming industry needs to get out of Macquarie Harbour. Consumers can't tell which products are tied to extinction – but the supermarkets can. Woolworths, Coles and ALDI can come to the skate's rescue ceasing all sales of salmon and trout sourced from Macquarie Harbour"

Quote attributable to Alistair Allan, marine campaigner at the Bob Brown Foundation:

"Woolworths, Coles and ALDI have an extinction on their hands. They are selling a product that is killing one of Australia's rare and unique animals. These companies must immediately stop procuring and selling Macquarie Harbour salmon and trout, and misleading the Australian public. This is the equivalent of these supermarkets having rhino horn on their shelves."

Quote attributable to SeaChoice representative from Living Oceans, Kelly Roebuck:

"The supermarkets each have sustainable seafood policies that are supposed to ensure the seafood they sell protects marine life – not drive marine life to extinction. Unsustainable Macquarie Harbour farmed salmon and trout should not be sold under any sustainable seafood policy."

Quote attributable to Jessica Coughlan, Campaigner at Neighbours of Fish Farming:

"The recent report from the Federal government explicitly lays out that the level of threat from the salmon industry is listed as almost certainly 'catastrophic' – greater than the threat of climate change, recreational and fishing and historic pollution from mining operations. The fact that this salmon and trout are being sold as "Sustainable" under an outdated supermarket policy is as revolting as will be regrettable."

View the PETITION here:

Background for editors:

  • The expansion of salmon farming since 2009 has contributed to low dissolved oxygen levels in Macquarie Harbour due to waste matter and uneaten salmon feed from fish farms polluting the harbour.
  • New conservation advice calls for salmon farming to be urgently destocked due to being a "catastrophic" threat to the skate.
  • Macquarie Harbour contributes approximately 10% of Tasmania's salmon haul. How much of this can consumers trace? 0%. How much can the supermarkets trace? 100%.
  • A third of Macquarie Harbour has been classified as a Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and the Maugean Skate is one of the values of the World Heritage Area.
  • The skate is at risk of becoming the first shark or ray in modern times to go extinct as a direct result of human activity.

Ekō is a global movement of consumers, investors, and workers all around the world, united together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable and just path for our global economy.