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, https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/about-the-department/governance-policies-and-legislation/rti-disclosure-log.