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Mass farmed salmon deaths raises concerns in Tasmania


Salmon farm. (Photo Credit: Tassal)

Click on the flag for more information about AustraliaAUSTRALIA
Friday, May 22, 2015, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
The deaths of hundreds of tonnes of salmon in a storm event that took place in Tasmania's west coast have reignited concerns about the environmental health of the Macquire harbour zone, which is home to large-scale fish farms owned by producersTassal, Huon Aquaculture and Petuna.
Tasmania's firm Petuna reported the loss of about 85,000 fish worth about AUD 1 million (USD 788,000) that suffocated when a seawater surge changed oxygen levels.
Referring to this issue, Petuna CEO Mark Porter said the event was the result of a one-off weather event and ensured that for the firm it represents just a fairly minor loss as only 3.7 per cent of Petuna's fish stocks is in the harbour, ABC News reported.
On the other hand, Green's Senator Peter Whish Wilson renewed his calls for greater scrutiny of the aquaculture industry.
In response to this concern, Petuna CEO welcomed the the Senate inquiry but insisted the “incident has been overstated.”
"But what I would say is that I would I like people like Senator Whish-Wilson coming and talking to us and seeing what we do rather than shooting from the hip with numbers and allegations,” Porter claimed.
Sources consulted by FIS.com informed that the Senate inquiry comes after leaked emails revealed Petuna and Huon Aquaculture had raised concerns directly with the Tasmanian government about plunging dissolved oxygen levels in Macquarie Harbour.
This issue led to an independent study into the health of the harbour which is currently being internationally peer reviewed.
For its part, the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies is monitoring dissolved oxygen levels in fish farming areas in Macquarie Harbour and reports to the State Government.
Referring to the harbour sanitary conditions, Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff said appropriate action had been taken by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
The minister announced that a decision on a new biomass limit would be made soon by the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries along with a report on oxygen levels.
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