Huon Aquaculture Company (Huon) cautiously welcomed the announcement by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) today that the regulator was implementing a process to manage salmon farming in Macquarie Harbour to ensure its long-term sustainability.
“We have long been on the record regarding our concerns about the environmental conditions in Macquarie Harbour and it is clear that all of the data, that has been collected independently by the EPA, CSIRO, IMAS as well as our own data, is showing that immediate harbour-wide action is needed.
“We are concerned that the conditions in the Harbour remain such that Harbour-wide action needs to happen more rapidly than what is outlined in today’s announcement.
“We will co-operate closely with the EPA in coming weeks and will continue to take whatever action is necessary to improve environmental conditions in Macquarie Harbour to ensure that Huon’s farming can continue in a safe and sustainable way.
“It is important that the management protocols determined by the regulator are undertaken fairly, harbour-wide and will protect the entire system as quickly as possible. It is only then that the community can be assured that salmon farming can continue in a safe, sustainable way.
Given the environmental conditions at current production levels Huon firmly believes the new biomass cap should be set substantially below the original cap of 15,437 tonnes.
“We remain committed to farming in the harbour, to our employees and to the wider Strahan community and we believe that if managed appropriately we can continue to be there for the long term.
“Huon has been taking a cautious approach to farming in Macquarie Harbour for a number of years and has taken strong action to mitigate environmental and agricultural risk.
“This is reflected in the performance of the leases that we farm with only a minor non-compliance reported at one lease site in very challenging environmental conditions.
The actions Huon has taken includes; commissioning extensive research into environmental and fish welfare conditions, reduction of stocking levels by 23% over the last two years, installation of oxygenation systems in pens and highly sophisticated husbandry practices including extended fallowing periods of lease sites and specialised feeds.
“An important outcome of the implementation of our Controlled Growth Strategy (CGS), is that Macquarie Harbour now accounts for approximately 10% of Huon’s salmon production. This percentage will progressively decline as our growth plans are exclusively focused on our leases located offshore in Storm Bay.
Huon has updated its Sustainability Dashboard to reflect the advice it received last night as part of the Company’s commitment to transparency.
“It is important the community is able to source current and accurate information about the sustainability of our operations and our Sustainability Dashboard is how we provide that information and I encourage anyone that may be interested to visit the site at
http://dashboard.huonaqua.com.au/environment/compliance,” Mr Bender said.