On 18 January 2017, the Director of the EPA issued final determinations reducing the cumulative biomass limits for salmon farms in Macquarie Harbour from 21,500t to 14,000t from 14 February – 30 April 2017. A further determination will be made setting the biomass cap for 2017-2018 once the Director has reviewed the January 2017 benthic monitoring reports.
To read the determinations and supporting reasons, click here. The submissions made by the salmon companies will not be released until the 2017-2018 determination is made.
The Director’s decision was made after considering a range of scientific information, as well as the “biomass aspirations” of the companies. He notes “significant deterioration in the level of compliance with benthic indicators” and a steady decline in dissolved oxygen to levels “which present a significant risk to the ecology of the harbour.” This was recognised as having negative implications for the endangered Maugean skate and other fauna.
Despite these findings, the Determinations will reduce the allowable biomass by 35%, but will not significantly reduce the actual biomass currently being farmed in the harbour. Huon Aquaculture has previously said that a 14,000t cap was inadequate to address deteriorating environmental conditions, and indicated that IMAS reports support reduction to at least 11,000t.
** SCS Global Services will be conducting the independent review of Tassal Operations Pty Ltd in Macquarie Harbour under the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s (ASC) Salmon Standard from 13 – 17 February 2017. SCS will be interviewing farm managers, farm workers, community and environmental groups to gain an understanding of the Macquarie Harbour operation – if you would like to meet with SCS, email firstname.lastname@example.org before 7 February 2017.