Tassal seeks backdoor approval to continue use of seal bombs on ASC certified farms


Since 2014, several Tassal farms have maintained Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification despite the ASC standard requiring zero use of seal bombs, which Tassal continues to use. ASC auditors are now seeking permanent approval for Tassal to continue seal bomb use.

Tassal has used nearly 60,000 seal bombs since 2018 on leases, including those ASC certified, and has marketed all its products as "responsibly farmed" even though certification applies only to some of its leases.

If ASC approves the request, Tassal can continue to market their product to shoppers as "responsibly farmed".

Seal bombs (misleadingly also called "crackers") are explosive devices that detonate below the surface. They are used to deter seals from salmon farms. They can cause pain to seals, dolphins, and whales, and hearing loss, bone fractures, soft tissue burns, other physical trauma and potentially death to seals as well as other marine life. This is especially significant for marine mammals which use hearing to hunt for food.

Globally, greenwashing exposés and scrutiny of farmed salmon certifications is increasing. Last month, conservation groups lodged a formal complaint to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) over the use of "responsibly sourced" claims made on Tasmanian salmon products linked with certifications in Macquarie Harbour where the industry poses a catastrophic threat to the endangered Maugean skate.

Trish Baily, VP at Tasmanian Alliance for Marine Protection, and Tasman Peninsula for Marine Protection representative said:

"Since 2014, stakeholders in Tasmania have engaged with the ASC auditing process in good faith, raising numerous concerns, including the regular use of deterrent devices such as seal bombs on Tassal farms. Yet the auditors have routinely ignored or dismissed stakeholder objections. Despite the globally renowned ASC certification having a zero tolerance on the use of seal bombs, Tassal has consistently received a stamp of approval from auditors and this makes a mockery of the certification process.

Alistair Allan, Marine Campaigner at the Bob Brown Foundation, said:

"This is how certifications become meaningless. Tassal is part of attacking native wildlife and destroying Tasmania's marine environments, yet it remains certified despite engaging in a practice that is explicitly not permitted by the ASC. With this latest move, consumers can now see that the whole certification scheme for farmed salmon is a sham.

Jessica Coughlan, campaigner at Neighbours of Fish Farming, said:

"We call on ASC to reject the request for Tassal to continue its harm to our native protected seals. Consumers should be outraged that Tassal farms have been allowed to get away with the use of seal bombs for the past ten years despite the ASC prohibiting it. The certificates from the eight ASC Tassal farms should also be revoked so long as the practice of using firearms and explosives in our sensitive waterways continues.

Kelly Roebuck, SeaChoice representative from Living Oceans, said:

"The ASC Standard might look good on paper, but it often isn't applied as such due to loopholes. From Canada to Chile to Scotland to Tasmania, ASC variances can result in criteria exemptions that enable salmon farms to be certified that would otherwise be ineligible. Shoppers expect certifications to live up to their 'responsible' claims, not cater to industry norms.

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