Peak environment group accuses Tassal of breaking the rules in sustainability audit for controversial Okehampton Bay operations

Peak environment group accuses Tassal of breaking the rules in sustainability audit for controversial Okehampton Bay operations

Tasmanian fishing, community and environment groups have lodged a letter of complaint with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), in the belief that Tassal, Australia’s largest salmon company, is breaching ASC standards in an effort to secure a green tick for its controversial Okehampton Bay operations on Tasmania’s east coast.

Tassal have pushed for an ASC audit of the company’s Okehampton Bay farm, despite the farm being in operation for under 12 months. The groups believe this breaches the ASC requirement that no farm is assessed prior to 18 months of operations or a full harvest cycle, to ensure the full impacts on the environment of a salmon growth cycle can be observed by auditors. Despite smolt going in at Okehampton Bay in August of last year, and the site only being stocked at half capacity in 2017, Tassal’s Okehampton Bay ASC assessment is happening now, with a community meeting to be held in Triabunna tomorrow, July 31st at 5.30pm.

“It’s alarming that Tassal appear to be abusing the industry agreed system by trying to get their Okehampton farm audited before it has operated for a full harvest cycle.  We believe this breaches certification rules and is clearly an attempt to gain certification before the impacts on the environment are clear,” says Laura Kelly, Environment Tasmania. “After getting away with breaking ASC standards in their Macquarie Harbour dead zone for 3 years, we believe this latest attempt to avoid rules within the system destroys any faith the public might have had left in the company and the ASC logo.”

Grant Robinson, President of east coast local group Marine Protection Tasmania, says Tassal had no social licence to proceed with their Okehampton Bay farm and the community is not surprised that Environment Tasmania believes the company is breaching ASC rules. 

“Tassal had no social licence to put this industrial salmon farm in our backyard, endangered whale calving habitat and prime tourism country. It doesn’t surprise us that they are now being accused of breaching ASC standards in an attempt to greenwash the harm they are doing to Tasmania’s pristine east coast,” says Mr Robinson.

Don Paton, President of RecFish Tas, questions the impacts of the significant amounts of money he understands to be passing between Tassal, ASC audit companies and members of the ASC Board.

“The people that are buying salmon need to know they’ve been conned. How can they believe in the credibility of theses processes when the people they are accrediting are their financial benefactors,” Mr Paton says.

The groups are calling on the ASC and their audit company, SCS Global, to delay the Tassal assessment until it complies with basic ASC standards described in clause 17.1.2 of the ASC Handbook. Their letter to SCS Global, the ASC auditors selected and paid by Tassal to conduct their Okehampton Bay assessment, is attached.


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