Salmon farms are attractive to a range of birds as they are seen as a place to perch and as a source of food – both from the fish and the fish-feed.
The birds commonly found at our farms include; cormorants (black-faced, great and pied), seagulls (Pacific, silver and kelp), eagles (mostly sea but occasionally wedge-tailed), and the occasional penguin and petrel.
Preventing birds from becoming entangled or drowning inside our pens has been a driver in the development of our new pens. Designed in-house by Huon staff, the new pens have been specifically developed to avoid bird entries and entanglement.
The new pens are being rolled out across our farms and use world first technology in pen structure and netting. All nets are made using the same material used in bullet-proof vests and are the strongest developed and used in fish farming world-wide.
Specifically, the design includes higher, more taught nets that that keep them well above the water and therefore keeps the birds away from the fish and also the fish feed pellets. The fully enclosed net using the smaller mesh size (60mm) keeps out all birds, including the smaller cormorants that traditionally have been able to get through any mesh above 75mm. Each Fortress Pen is installed with an escape hatch to provide an exit in the unlikely event of an entry.
By denying birds the opportunity to perch and access to both fish and feed, they are discouraged from viewing our pens as a place to rest and as a source of food.
Already we are seeing the benefit on the farm.
Huon has also partnered with The Raptor & Wildlife Refuge to develop a bird safety program that trains Huon employees on how to safely free entangled birds of different species as well as how to best care for them. Injured birds are then taken to the refuge for further treatment and recovery.
The table below displays bird mortality for three Huon leases in the South East of Tasmania for 2016 to date. These form part of our Aquaculture Stewardship Certification (ASC) reporting requirements. We endeavour to be as accurate as possible when recording bird interactions, however, there is the possibility that some birds have been recorded more than once by our work teams and as a result, the numbers below reflect the maximum possible mortalities for each area. This information will be reported using our Sustainability Dashboard in the coming months.
Storm Bay 2016/17
|November||1||Pacific Gull||Found floating (unable to determine if associated with aquaculture operations)|
Flathead Bay 2016/17
Zuidpool Rock 2016/17
|4||Silver Gull||3 Drowned, 1 Entanglement|
|February||4||2 Kelp Gulls, 1 Silver Gull, 1 Cormorant||Entanglement|
|March||2||2 Kelp Gulls||Entanglement|