Misleading consumers: Tassal, ASC and WWF - Environment Tasmania

Misleading consumers: Tassal, ASC and WWF

Today peak state environment group, Environment Tasmania, will release a damning report into the faulty auditing process which has allowed Australia’s largest salmon company to falsely market its salmon to consumers as ‘clean and green’.

Click here to read the report.

Tassal’s product has carried the Aquaculture Stewardship Council – or ASC – logo for its salmon from Macquarie Harbour, on Tasmania’s west coast, since 2014. Yet government data shows oxygen levels in Macquarie Harbour plummeted to worrying levels in 2013 and the latest report by the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies shows that all marine life is dead under Tassal's largest lease in Macquarie Harbour. 



Tassal’s role in the crisis in Macquarie Harbour was the subject of a Four Corners investigation in October last year.Environment Tasmania has expanded its investigation into ASC processes and discovered even larger  amounts of money changing hands between Tassal, WWF and the ASC, and false reporting within ASC audit reports.


“Our investigation has discovered ASC auditors failed to report major breaches of ASC standards by Tassal, and formally closed investigations into breaches even though evidence within their own reports showed Tassal remained in breach of the minimum oxygen standards required for protecting the environment and the welfare of its fish,” said Laura Kelly, Strategy Director at Environment Tasmania.


"This impacts all Australians who eat salmon - their fish could be coming from pens where they swim above mounds of bacteria and their own faeces and suffer sub-lethal stresses including skin lesions,"  Ms Kelly said. 


“When we tried to determine how Tassal could possibly have kept its 'clean, green' logo throughout a period that it was breaching crucial standards, we discovered more money changing hands between Tassal, the ASC, ASC auditors and WWF – up to $1.4 million per year.”


“This is a massive financial incentive for the ASC, its auditors and WWF to allow Tassal to keep its ASC logo – even when it is breaching crucial ASC standards. After thoroughly reviewing all evidence within the ASC’s own reports, we believe this has resulted in Tassal’s consumers being misled about what they are buying,” Ms Kelly said.


Environment Tasmania’s investigation extended to the ‘independent’ auditing company which Tassal pays directly to report to the ASC – SCS Global Consulting.


“When we looked into other companies SCS Global has signed-off as sustainable, we discovered chemical companies in Thailand accused of dumping carcinogens in villagers water supply and biofuels companies which ActionAid and Oxfam have accused of worsening hunger in Africa. This raises serious questions about the rigour of the audits Tassal has paid SCS Global to conduct in Macquarie Harbour” Ms Kelly said.


Environment Tasmania has started a petition to the ASC demanding that all certifications for Macquarie Harbour be suspended and a full and transparent review of just how Tassal has retained ASC certification while breaching key ASC standards for more than 18 months.