Cleaning up Tasmanian Salmon

Today Tasmania’s peak environmental group released a damning dossier on the shortcomings of regulation of Australia’s largest fishery sector, the Tasmanian salmon industry.

Environment Tasmania’s investigation into industry regulations, Cleaning up Tasmanian Salmon: How the Tasmanian Government can restore social licence and secure jobs in Tasmania’s salmon industry is being released following a Four Corners probe into the industry and yesterday’s acknowledgment by Tasmania’s Environmental Protection Authority that companies are breaching licence conditions in Macquarie Harbour, where oxygen levels in the water have reached zero in some areas and faeces and bacteria are accumulating on the floor of the harbour.

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  • commented 2016-12-27 16:25:29 +1100
    Then finally your attempt to claim that salmon farming and tourism cannot co-exist, agin backed by sloppy research and referencing.

    You outline a comparison between tourism and aquaculture in Greece, the most moribund of all the European economies citing an article by Staresinic and Popovi (sic) (2004) but referencing only “WTTC 2003” in the references. How a paper from 2003 can cite one from 2004 is beyond me. Again, I was unable to find the actual paper by Staresinic and Popovic but I was able to find the actual paper that ET quoted, http://www.aquaculture.stir.ac.uk/public/GISAP/pdfs/Dempster.pdf which is chapter 3 of the book Aquaculture In The Ecosystem. https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Aquaculture_in_the_Ecosystem.html?id=XxKmcQAACAAJ&redir_esc=y

    In this chapter Tim Dempster says, “Staresinic and Popovi (2004) compared the relative contributions of tourism and mariculture to the economy of Greece, which has the greatest production of maricultured fish of all Mediterranean countries and a substantial mussel industry.” So ET should actually have quoted Dempster’s paper but again maybe maybe wanted to hide the fact that he actually got it WRONG, because the paper cited in Dempster’s references is Staresinic N, Popovic A (2004) “The links between tourism and mariculture: the case of Croatia.” Proceedings of the IX World Congress of Rural Sociology, Trondheim, Norway, July 2004. Yes, Croatia, not Greece.

    Nevertheless, according to the FAO, aquaculture in Greece, not Croatia contributes to 19% of the country’s exports. http://www.fao.org/fishery/countrysector/naso_greece/en#tcN700C5
    But if you wanted to get a true comparison between salmon farming and tourism, why pick a tourism dominated country like Greece? Why not compare apples with apples? Norway to Tasmania?

    In 2014 tourism provided a direct contribution of 2.95% of the Norwegian GDP. https://www.wttc.org/-/media/files/reports/economic%20impact%20research/countries%202015/norway2015.pdf While Fishing and Aquaculture contributed 0.7% of GDP http://www.fao.org/fishery/facp/NOR/en. Compared to the oft quoted figures of the $1B tourism industry and the $600M salmon industry in Tasmania it seems that tourism and salmon farming can get on just fine.
  • commented 2016-12-27 16:22:10 +1100
    The next issue is the one where again you try to claim that Tasmanian salmon farming regulations are out of date compared to those of Norway and Scotland.

    You claim that the Norwegian planning approach found that 19% of the coast was appropriate for salmon farming. Considering how much coastline Norway has, namely 83,281 km, then 19% is 15,823 km suitable for salmon farming, along which Norway grows 1.4 million tonnes of salmon. Norwegian regulation is around stocking limits (tonnage of fish) and not feed inputs or waste outputs. Tasmanian regulations are much more stringent, yet what is the point of this fact? That the most environmentally conscious country in the world doesn’t have a major problem with that level of salmon farming?

    ET next cites Scotland’s aquaculture planning scheme, but doesn’t quote this extract from it, “At present, each new aquaculture site is dealt with on its merits by Local Authorities through the terrestrial planning process … Decisions will also now have to give regard to this Plan and future regional marine plans.” In contrast Tasmania has had a dedicated marine farming branch of state government and marine farming plans for 20 years, and Scotland is just now following our lead. While holding Scotland up as an example of best practice ET also fails to mention that the vast majority of Scottish salmon farms are in very sheltered inshore waters.

    So again, your allusion to the fact that Tasmanian salmon farming regulation is not as up-to-date as that in Norway and Scotland is in fact an illusion.
  • commented 2016-12-27 16:20:05 +1100
    So now that I have a bit more time I thought I’d share a few more of the inaccuracies of the report.

    The paper claims that, “Water temperature of 13 degrees Celsius produces the most efficient rate for salmon,” citing Ernst M Hevroy et al., 2013 but not the name of the actual article. So where did this figure come from? Well, most likely from a “manuscript, pre-print version of the article,” “The Importance of Temperature in Farmed Salmon Growth: Regional Growth Functions for Norwegian Farmed Salmon” where the author Sverre Braathen Thyholdt states, “the experiment showed that the most efficient growth was achieved at a water temperature of 13 degrees Celsius (Ernst M Hevrøy et al., 2013).” This is a shame because in this version the author made a mistake. Not only did he cite an incorrect date of the Hevroy paper published in 2012, not 2013, but he also misquoted the paper. Hevroy et al, 2012 actually say, “Accordingly, 13 C appears to be a more optimal temperature for the growth of adult Atlantic salmon at sea.” There’s a big difference between most efficient and more optimal, and there is a big difference between incorrectly citing a secondary source and correctly locating the primary source if Environment Tasmania wants to avoid its rapidly developing reputation of being misleading with its use of facts and opinion disguised as information.

    Then there is the claim that, “water temperatures over 17 degrees Celsius results in sub-lethal stresses,” citing Brett et al (1982), again omitting the title of the actual source. I too couldn’t find the actual article, Brett, J. R., Clarke, W. C., and Shelbourn, J. E. (1982). “Experiments on thermal requirements for growth and food conversion efficiency of juvenile Chinook salmon,” but there are plenty of references to it out there in Google land. But again ET is either just being lazy, or again misleading when it uses a paper on Chinook salmon to argue a case for Atlantic salmon when they are two different species native to two separate oceanic environments.

    If you are trying to claim that Tasmanian water is currently too warm to farm salmon then I’m sorry, but you are wrong.
  • commented 2016-11-24 18:42:56 +1100
    “An unlimited amount of faeces.” Really? Do you think people will buy that? Salmon farm zones have a nitrogen cap. Nitrogen output is directly related to the % of protein in the feed. So if you are only able to put a certain amount of nitrogen out, this means that you are only allowed to put in a certain amount of feed in. And, as the amount of faeces an animal produces is directly related to the amount of food it eats (for salmon this is approximately 0.2 tonnes of faeces for each 1 tonne of feed), then clearly there is a LIMITED amount of faeces.

    And then this, “based on the industry’s current production, the salmon farming industry is using 48,000,000 tonnes of feed and discharging at least 2,112,000 kg N/t into Tasmania’s coastal waters each year.” Hang on a minute, we are only growing 60 THOUSAND tonnes of salmon so how can we be using 48 MILLION tonnes of feed? That’s 800 tonnes of feed to grow 1 tonne of salmon!! Where did you source this figure ET? Because Skretting says it takes 1.35 tonnes of feed to grow 1 tonne of salmon, or 81,000 tonnes of feed, or 0.17% of your figure!

    And 2,112,000 kg N/t?? You do realise that you are saying 2,112,000 kg of Nitrogen per tonne of salmon produced don’t you? So for the 60,000 tonnes of salmon we are producing 126,720,000 TONNES of Nitrogen??? Environment Tasmania, maths, fail. Sorry, it’s actually about 2112 tonnes of nitrogen a year.

    And a couple of hours of google searching found that at least three of your claims are incorrectly cited in your references, and by reading the actual primary source papers will show that what you have read has been incorrectly misquoted, in other words, wrong.

    But Environment Tasmania will spread this paper far and wide, and soon the average punter who believes what they read in a “scientific” paper, will be quoting figures of 48 million tonnes of feed, unlimited amounts of faeces, and lethal water temperatures like it’s the truth. And Environment Tasmania has continually claimed that it does not aim to be misleading. Please at least address these errors in your Cleaning Up Tasmanian Salmon paper. It does you a disservice.