Today Environment Tasmania will release an open letter signed by seventeen local environment groups, demanding an end to conflicts of interest within the so-called independent Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Certification scheme for salmon.
In a David versus Goliath battle, these small environment groups are demanding that the global environment group, WWF, cease taking up to $500,000 a year from Tassal, the largest salmon company in Australia.
“Tassal has retained this so-called best-practice certification regardless of breaching key ASC standards on sustainability and fish welfare for three years now,” says Environment Tasmania Strategy Director, Laura Kelly. “The only way we can explain this is the large sums of money changing hands between Tassal, the ASC and WWF.”
Macquarie Harbour is a focus of local environmental groups concerns, where both Tassal and Petuna have held on to the ASC tick, despite well documented damage to the Harbour, the adjacent World Heritage Area and an endangered species found only in Tasmania, the Maugean Skate.
“The ASC needs to cut financial ties to the companies it overseas and stop the process of salmon companies paying ASC auditors directly,” Ms Kelly says.
"It's disappointing that Tassal and Petuna have refused to participate in our consumer guide. Transparently providing evidence that their practices are sustainable is in the best interests of consumers and their brand, and not doing so makes it look as though they have something to hide."
The environmental groups calls to clean-up the ASC process come as a new paper by leading Tasmanian academics on environmental impacts in Macquarie Harbour has been accepted for publication in the CSIRO published Journal of Pacific Conservation Biology. The paper presents data linking negative environmental impacts in the Harbour with the expansion of salmon farming and the failure of legal, regulatory and science governance processes to respond to serious environmental degradation in the Harbour.
Tasmanian local groups who have undersigned our open letter to WWF include:
Rose Bay Coastcare Group
Port Esperance Coastcare Group
Lake Pedder Restoration Group
Friends of the Great Western Tiers
Abels Bay Coastcare Group
Bridgewater / Gagebrook Clean Up
Kingston Beach Coastcare Group
Bob Brown Foundation
Friends of Huon Island
Friends of Knocklofty Reserve
Neighbours of Fish Farms
Mole Creek Caving Club
Climate Action Hobart
Andara Wildlife Sanctuary
North East Bioregional Network
Esmeralda Environmental Landcare Group
Rec Fish Tas