A Michelin-star chef and Tasmania’s largest abalone mothership are steaming up the east coast today, to support fisherman Chris Massie’s two-week occupation of Okehampton Bay. They will be joined by oyster farmer and elder of Tasmanian wild fisheries, Des Whayman, as two of Tasmania’s leading east coast vineyard owners join Mr Massie in raising their concerns about Tassal’s plans to industrialise Okehampton Bay.
The protest grows a day after Tassal received EPBC approval to proceed with the development, despite threats to endangered Southern Right Whales.
Phillipe Leban, former Executive Chef at MONA and owner of A Tiny Place at Battery Point, will join Chris for lunch on his boat to discuss his concerns about Tassal's unsustainable practices and damage to Tasmania’s premium food brand.
Paul Stranan, owner of Darlington Vineyard in Orford, will donate wine for the lunch, to show his support for Mr Massie’s efforts to protect Brand Tasmania.
“I love my salmon too, but Okehampton Bay is the wrong spot for an industrial fish farm, it’s too prisitine an area,” Mr Stranan says.
Kerry Dunbabin of Milton Vineyard, Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year in 2017, shares Mr Stranan’s concerns about the impacts Tassal’s industrial salmon farm will have on the environment and the east coast brand.
“We support development on the East Coast in a suitable, sustainable way but feel the push for an industrial salmon farm in the position proposed in Okehampton Bay to be dangerous to the fragile ecosystems of the bay and the surrounding areas. The whales and other marine life are world class in this area and this could ruin their environment,” Ms Dunbabin says.
Cam Brett, owner of Spring Bay Distillery, Director at TasVacations and former Director of the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania agrees that allowing polluting, industrial development at Okehampton Bay will damage Tasmania's pristine east coast tourism brand.
“You can only take pristine away, you can’t bring it back once it’s gone,” Mr Brett says.
Des Whayman is an oyster farmer who has fished the east coast for 60 years. He doesn’t oppose salmon farming but wants it moved out of inshore areas, to protect the environment and our wild fisheries.
“We need to protect industries, like mussels and oysters, that depend on clean water. There is a way to farm salmon sustainably and it’s offshore or on land, not in Okehampton Bay,” Mr Whayman said.
Abalone mothership, Aclazar, and its crew will spend three nights with Mr Massie in Okehampton Bay and will be joined next week by Duncan Sinclair of Wineglass Bay Cruises, with his boat, ‘Schouten Passage II’.