We are conscious of reducing our impact on Tasmania’s freshwater supply, which is why we re-use water from our Whale Point nursery and will heavily rely on desalinated water (generated by the Ronja Storm) moving forwards (2020 onwards). We also source water from the mouth of the Esperance and Kermandie Rivers, which would end up in the sea. The amount taken has never impacted on residential use, nor has it impacted the natural environmental flow. Huon also sources water from private land dams. This water is not fit for human consumption and if required, is available as a resource for fire-fighting.
Due to the advanced technology at Whale Point, and an on-site dam into which the treated wastewater flows, we are able to reuse this water on board the Ronja Huon. As an absolute back up, we do have town water access which has been used in the past to treat severe AGD cases—this is only used a handful of times per year.
Over the past five years, since the Controlled Growth Strategy was introduced, Huon has reduced its total use of freshwater (annually) by 50 per cent—down from 2,204 mega litres in 2014 (this includes use of Huon-owned dam water and river mouth water) and this is expected to reduce further when the desalination plant on board the Ronja Storm begins operation (first quarter of 2020). In 2019 (January – November), our usage of town-supplied water for bathing (does not include dam or river water use) was ONLY 1.699 megalitres! By comparison, the average household usage in Australia per annum is around one-third a megalitre.
Tasmania is a unique environment for salmon farming due to Amoeba, a single-celled microscopic organism that is native to Tasmania. They multiply and reduce water flow at the gill surface that can limit oxygen supply to the fish that can cause death if not treated. They are unique to the saltwater marine environment and cannot tolerate freshwater, whereas salmon can adapt between salt and fresh. Bathing our fish in fresh water removes them of Amoeba.
We bathe our fish in industry-tailored wellboats designed to transport and bath the fish in a seamless, low-stress environment. Using wellboats to bath our fish also allows Huon to transport all the fish into an enclosed system. This method greatly reduces the potential for disease transfer, improving our biosecurity practices and impact on our fish.
Huon was the first company globally to use a wellboat for the purpose of bathing fish in freshwater. What this means is that rather than needing to tow large liners full of freshwater, fish are transferred into the wells of the boat to swim around for a few hours before they are returned back to a pen.
Flow-through hatcheries – Our flow-through hatcheries draw freshwater from a local source such as a river and then release the water back to that source after use. Before freshwater is released back it is cleaned through drum filters to ensure we effectively minimise and manage any potential impact on the environment. Flow-through hatcheries are issued with a non-consumptive water licence which results in a water usage reading of zero with all the water returned to the source in a sustainable manner.
Recirculation hatcheries – Recirculation hatcheries treat and reuse freshwater, meaning that they do not discharge any water used in operations back to the natural source, and are classified as consumptive. A small percentage of freshwater will become waste water and is not reused; waste water is either irrigated onsite or provided to neighbouring farms or orchards for irrigation.
Parramatta Creek processing facility – Our fresh and value added processing facility is located in Sassafras in the North of Tasmania and waste water is used to irrigate grazing land for local farmers.