Letter to Editor

In support of everyone who works directly (2,300 people) in the Tassie salmon industry and the estimated 10,000 other jobs supported by this highly innovative, caring and professional industry, here’s a letter our co-founder, Frances Bender, sent to The Mercury newspaper yesterday BUT which the paper decided not to print.
This was in response to a UTAS academic’s claims that the industry has been over-inflating the level of indirect jobs supported by the industry.
“Dr Graeme Wells claims the Tassie salmon industry is deliberately lying and exaggerating the number of indirect jobs supported by Huon Aquaculture, Petuna and Tassal across Tasmanian communities.
As at today, the three companies directly employ 2,300 Tasmanians, and support more than 10,000 indirect jobs across other sectors (ABS input-output multiplier for Australian aquaculture industry = 5.2).
Consider for a moment the 173 people employed at the three feed mills, BioMar, Skretting and Ridley, all based in regional towns across Tasmania, then add everyone who works in the fuel supply industry (remember the industry uses oxygen, diesel, petroleum, etc), marine biologists who undertake independent environmental monitoring, academics at IMAS, packaging companies, construction firms, regional trade training centre educators and the list goes on.
The Tassie salmon industry provides the critical mass to enable Seafood Maritime Training, a local RTO, to deliver training for Tasmanian eco-tourism providers, commercial fishers and the statutory training for marine scientists. Over the years, the three companies have supported thousands of Tasmanians to complete their apprenticeship training providing a springboard to a long-lasting professional career – hundreds of salmon employees of all ages are currently undertaking apprenticeships including electro-technology, carpentry, engineering as well as aquaculture.
This industry invests heavily in regional suppliers and contractors, most of which are small to medium sized Tassie owned businesses; from transport companies like Spectran and De Bruyn’s, to manufacturers and plastic fabricators like Mitchell Plastic Welding and PFG, to boat builders like Crisp Bros & Haywards and Lyndcraft, all the way down to local trades businesses like your neighbour, the plumber, to your daughter’s footy coach who drives the fuel truck, to the café down the road who opens early to supply egg and bacon rolls for the 6am shift starters. Let’s add clothing and PPE manufacturers, workplace training consultants, local dive businesses, waste disposal firms, environmental laboratories all the way up to the local BnB and pub who provide a bed and a meal for OHS and HR staff when they visit their colleagues around the State.
Aquaculture is a leading Tasmanian primary industry, a generator of employment, technology, services and suppliers, creating a strong economic and jobs multiplier effect; integral for Tasmania’s future and current industry prosperity.
Critically, aquaculture provides tremendous opportunities to create a mass of highly skilled, employed families that can keep regional communities alive and thriving and growing–something that should never be under estimated as the world recovers from COVID.
Perhaps Dr Wells should check in with his colleagues at IMAS about the facts; colleagues who have been, and still are, an integral part of this highly skilled and important Tasmanian industry?”
21 May 2021

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