Tassal wanted reports on antibiotic use at salmon farms kept secret – CSIRO warns of dangers of over-use
Right to Information documents obtained by the Tasmanian Inquirer reveal that Tassal sought to block the public release of monitoring reports submitted to the Environment Protection Agency after using more than two tonnes of antibiotics at two of its fish farms. The Tasmanian salmon industry has used more than 31.4 tonnes of antibiotics in marine leases since 2003.
An internal January 2022 memo to EPA Director and chief executive Wes Ford revealed that there had been a long-running standoff with Tassal over the public release of a September 2020 report on the use of 1.3 tonnes of oxytetracycline at the controversial Okehampton Bay lease near Triabunna, claiming the report was commercial-in-confidence.
The EPA informed Tassal of its intention to publish the report on 16 November 2020 unless it could "provide further justification why not". But the report remained buried until July 2022, when it was published on the EPA website without public notification.
Apparently coincidentally, on the same day this report was published, Australia's leading scientific organisation, the CSIRO, released a report on the growing threat from drug-resistant super-bugs. They said that Australia is seeing a growing 'silent pandemic' when bacteria and other microbes become resistant to the drugs designed to kill them, such as antibiotics, usually from misuse or overuse. Loss of effective antimicrobial treatments would be catastrophic for human and animal health.