The Future of Fish Farming

IMG_7156To meet market demand means we need to do things better, more efficiently and with less impact on the environment.

New technology, improved information and knowledge, coupled with a strong desire to be a world leader in farming practices will allow us to grow our business sustainably and reach our goals.

To ensure a sustainable future we are investing heavily in new state-of-the-art pens, changing the way we operate our leases, operating a cutting edge well-boat and adapting our feed systems to encourage health and performance in our fish.

The benefits are many, but what are they?

THE BENEFITS…

The major changes to our farming practices come with significant benefits for the environment, the local community, our workers and our business. We have summarised the key benefits for you here but also encourage you to click through to the sections above which describes the specific benefits of each element of our farming improvements.

ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS

Operating responsibly within our environment is paramount to the success of Huon. Our fish are the best indicator of environmental health and if we fail to respect this, then we won’t be able to grow superior and sought after salmon. An independent Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) broad scale environmental monitoring program report recently found that our farms in the Huon and Channel are having “no significant or adverse environmental effects (on) the water quality or sediments” – Colin Buxton, IMAS Director.

However, new technology and improved understanding of the marine environment means that our proposed changes to lease locations places them in more environmentally appropriate sites. What that means is;

  • Greater water movement provides better conditions for the fish
  • The coarser grit sediment under the pens is better oxygenated which means that any nutrient load (organic matter) is broken down more quickly. The sea bed can easily deal with organic enrichment from our farm operations
  • The different ecology (animals and food webs) of the control sites means that any organic matter is naturally processed more quickly and easily

Overall, this means that the new off-shore sites will better support the same farming activity as the in-shore sites. That’s a great outcome for the environment.

Huon has also been actively working to reduce marine debris at source. From placing bins on all vessels, using stronger or different equipment as well as employee education. Unfortunately, strong winds and sea weather means we will never be able to entirely eliminate debris however the changes we are making on the farm will see marine debris continue to decrease. Please read the section on “Revolutionary New Pen Design” for further information.

COMMUNITY BENEFITS

A successful salmon industry brings many economic and social benefits to the region through employment, flow on benefits to local businesses as well as local community investment through grants and sponsorships, donations and generally through participation. Like any responsible local company, we want to strengthen and improve what we do and to be active participants and contributors to the communities we’re part of. The changes to our farming practices will deliver significant community benefit in a variety of ways.

INCREASED EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL PEOPLE

Huon currently employs around 460 people which is likely to continue to increase as we grow our operations. Huon will continue to provide attractive salary and benefits to employees to encourage them to live, work and raise their families in the region. Huon will continue to work with local schools, Registered Training Organisations (particularly Seafood Training Tasmania) and other education institutions as part of its Workforce Development Plan.

MORE OPPORTUNITY FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES

Wherever possible, Huon uses local businesses. Huon currently spends more than $20 million each year with local businesses in Southern Tasmania. We remain committed to sourcing goods and services locally, wherever possible and will continue as we grow our operation.

REDUCED BOAT TRAFFIC AND SOUND FROM THE FARM

The combined effect of our farming changes will result in a substantial reduction in river traffic and therefore sound generated from farm boats. We use a variety of vessels to perform specific functions on the farm. We will always need to travel to and from the pens as well as transport fish and equipment. However, we expect that we will significantly reduce the overall traffic in and around our farms. Please read the sections on the well-boat and feed system for details on how boat traffic and sound will be reduced. The result for the community will be a noticeable reduction in overall river traffic from farm operations.

LESS VISIBLE FARMING OPERATIONS AS WE MOVE OFF-SHORE

The Huon and Channel have always been “working” waterways – whether for forestry in the earliest days, or for the transport of apples up until recent times, for commercial fishing as well as for fish farming. Whilst many local residents enjoy the visual interest of our farms, we also accept that it is not all residents’ preference. By moving our leases off-shore, they will be less visible from the land by the local community and we believe this strikes a happy medium with both views.