Latest News - Environment Tasmania

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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New data suggests salmon industry is selling a lie

Environment Tasmania has coordinated independent testing of Tasmanian farmed salmon and found concerning results. We (assisted by a member of the public) bought 2 fillets from each Tasmanian farmed salmon producer from supermarkets in Melbourne, and sent them off to be analysed in an independant, NATA accredited lab, Eurofins Australia. Different brands showed different fat levels - and all of them were higher in total fats than what’s claimed in Australia, or indeed any fat levels of farmed salmon we could find from around the world.


One Tassal fillet had total fat levels that are 73% higher than what they publish, (28g) and saturated fat 83% higher than declared (5.68g)

For reference, wild Atlantic salmon are reported to have 6.3g total fat and 1g saturated fat per 100g.


Environment Tasmania's Lead marine campaigner Jilly Middleton is calling for Food Standards Australia and New Zealand to further investigate and if necessary update their health recommendations regarding Tasmanian farmed salmon.



Sydney University's professor of Nutrition and Cardiometabolic Health, Michael Skilton commented;


 “There are two aspects that concern me about these test results. Firstly, the increase in overall fat in the salmon will have a marked effect on total calorie intake, which is a key driver of obesity. Secondly, the amount of saturated fat is also higher than previously reported. Saturated fat is the strongest dietary driver of high blood cholesterol and is a major risk factor for heart disease. While the “healthy” omega-3 fats are also increased, omega-3 fats don’t offset these negative effects of saturated fat.”



We found trans fats that are not naturally found in seafood - It’s a red flag, another sign that farmed salmon is very different nutritionally to it’s much healthier wild cousin. We would suggest that consumers who are buying salmon for their health’s sake monitor this issue to see what further investigations find.


Given how carefully the producers monitor and control the levels of omega 3 fatty acids in the salmon meat, it’s very hard to believe these results would be a surprise to the salmon companies, or the feed industry.




Results Total Fats Saturated fats MUFAs PUFAs Trans fats
Petuna 1 16.3 3.42 8.33 4.31 0.228
Petuna 2 19.8 4.91 10.2 4.39 0.332
Huon 1 24.2 3.60 13.3 7.10 0.219
Huon 2 23.7 3.59 13.0 6.9 0.216
Tassal 1 21.2 4.04 11.2 5.7 0.282
Tassal 2 28.5 5.68 14.8 7.61 0.398


Units are grams per 100 grams of fresh salmon, this is equivalent to % by weight.


Tassal claim 16.1% total fat and 3.1% saturated fat.

The Mynetdiary figure for Petuna is 12% total fat, 3% saturated fat.

The Mynetdiary figure for Huon is 18% total fat, 3.5% saturated fat.



For comment,

Jilly Middleton



[email protected]

Lead marine campaigner

Environment Tasmania

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The Tasmanian Government's new 10 year plan for 'sustainable salmon'

Environment Tasmania's response to Barnett’s ‘10-year plan to sustainable salmon’


Here's a link to Barnett's plan


This plan is recognition from the government that the salmon industry needs urgent intervention and a regulation upgrade.  Environment Tasmania welcomes forward planning to clean up the mess that is the Tasmanian salmon industry and it’s flawed regulatory framework. 


For this initiative to be taken seriously by the community we need a diverse range of stakeholders including traditional owners and environment groups included in developing a meaningful  plan. The Tasmanian community, and salmon customers nationwide have lost trust in the Tasmanian government’s capacity to regulate this industry with an appropriate arms length. 

The changes to make the EPA more independent will only be significant if the EPA becomes an agent primarily concerned with the environment, not for profit for industry. 


“An immediate moratorium on new leases sounds promising, but in reality it’s lip service - there are many leases already established around Tasmania, and this gesture won’t hold the salmon industry back from heavy expansion and intensification. We want to see a moratorium on new farms going in the water and the immediate retirement of antiquated leases that wouldn’t be approved today”, said Jilly Middleton, lead marine campaigner at Environment Tasmania.

Jilly, 0419168086 for comment.


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New evidence of severe animal welfare abuses, and false reporting of seal kill numbers

Media Release 




New evidence of severe animal welfare abuses by the salmon industry, and false reporting of seal kill numbers 



New Right to Information documents have revealed Tasmanian Government staff called for an investigation into Tassal's severe mistreatment of seals, with horrific images of seals shot in the face at close range, suffering blunt trauma injury, wound infection and slowly bleeding to death.


“We were sickened when going through these images and reports - these seals have been brutalised with explosives and 12-gauge shotguns at close range and left to bleed to death,” says Laura Kelly, Environment Tasmania.”Then there is evidence of the Tasmanian Government refusing to enforce the Animal Welfare Act, despite repeated calls from their own staff to do so in the face of severe animal cruelty from Tassal.”


The RTI documents also confirm for the first time that the Tasmanian Government believes what the community have long suspected - salmon company reports of seal deaths are well below the actual number of seals being killed.


According to a DPIPWE wildlife biologist “these findings are probably a large underestimate of the proportion of seals that die due to approved and legislated deterrent use. This is also likely a large underestimate as many seals with injury/penetrating wounds resulting from deterrents would leave the area and die outside the lease area.”

The RTI documents contain evidence of DPIPWE staff calling for an investigation of Tassal, and suggesting that animal welfare abuses have been allowed to continue because of a lack of action by the Tasmanian Government. 

There is no evidence within the document that an investigation delivered any changes in practices. In fact, over the 3 years up to 31/1/2021, 3962 bean bag bullets containing lead shot and non-biodegradable kevlar were used against seals. 75,339 underwater explosives have been used with large numbers of distressing injuries and deaths reported. 

In an internal DPIPWE email, a member of the DPIPWE clearly states breaches of the Animal Welfare Act have not been prosecuted and that he believes ongoing abuses are happening because of a lack of oversight by the Tasmanian Government.

Environment Tasmania will write to the Tasmanian Integrity Commission requesting an investigation of the Tasmanian Government’s failure to implement the Animal Welfare Act, despite repeated calls from Government staff for action in the face of illegal cruelty to animals. 

For comment: Laura Kelly,  0401 559 335, Jilly Middleton, 0419 168 086. RTI059,

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Grisly animal welfare abuses at salmon farms revealed in new Right to Information docments

Tasmania’s peak environment group is calling for independent observers and observer cameras to be installed immediately at all industrial salmon farms around the state, after a new Right to Information request revealed grisly details of animal cruelty, with over 80 dead dolphins and seals reported and more than 4000 seal bombs or ‘cracker deterrents’ used in a two year period. 

“This report on Tassal and Huon’s practices is a grisly, damning read, with decomposing dolphin heads, seals killed at close range by seal bombs and sedation darts, seals hauled panting and frothing on collars, seals 'hiding' under floats to avoid being shot and live and dead seals trapped together and left for over a week in salmon pens. And this is just what we know from industry self-reporting,” says Laura Kelly, Strategy Director at Environment Tasmania.

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Tasmania responsible for the first fish extinction in modern times - the Smooth Handfish

Media Release
Tasmania is responsible for the first fish extinction in modern times - as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declares the Smooth Handfish officially extinct.
In early June, Jessica Meeuwig, a professor at the University of Western Australia and director of the university’s Centre for Marine Futures, told international media that the smooth handfish likely disappeared due to habitat loss and destructive fishing practices like scallop trawling, and that the species’ extinction is “indicative of broader problems in how we continue to manage our oceans.”
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Tassal salmon reports 260-fold increase in antibiotic use



A dramatic increase in antibiotic use by Tassal salmon has been revealed, following the release of the Global Salmon Initiative's (GSI's) so-called 'Sustainability Report' last week. According to the report, Tassal used 62.28 grams of antibiotics per tonne of salmon produced in 2019, compared with 0.24 grams per tonne in 2018.


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Tassal salmon reports 260-fold increase in antibiotic use



A dramatic increase in antibiotic use by Tassal salmon has been revealed, following the release of the Global Salmon Initiative's (GSI's) so-called 'Sustainability Report' last week. According to the report, Tassal used 62.28 grams of antibiotics per tonne of salmon produced in 2019, compared with 0.24 grams per tonne in 2018.

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Environment group calls for 'three strikes and you're out' rule, as Huon salmon gets away with environmental crimes


Tasmania's peak environment group has called for an immediate increase in fines for environmental crimes by big salmon companies, after Huon Aquaculture was fined just $40,000 for 6 breaches of environment laws this week. Environment Tasmania is also proposing a 'three strikes and you're out' rule for salmon companies, with suspension of operating licences for one year at sites with recurring breaches of environment notices.

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Release investigation into Tassal’s February listeria detection

Today Environment Tasmania has called for the immediate release of the investigation into detection of listeria in Tassal salmon in Queensland on February 11,  2019.

“Both Tassal and Premier Hodgman have failed to mention in media that Tassal products tested positive for listeria at a Queensland warehouse in February this year. According to a spokesperson for the Health Department, the deaths from listeriosis occurred between February 22 and June 7,” says Laura Kelly, Director of Environment Tasmania.

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