Protest calls for a new approach to fish farming

May 23, 2023
Protesters call for an end to polluting fish farms. Photos: Robynne Murphy (left and bottom); Neighbours of Fishfarming/FB (top right)

Hundreds of people gathered with kayaks and boats at Mickeys Beach, on the south east coast of Tasmania, on May 20 to demand an end to salmon farming in estuaries, river mouths and oceans.

The campaign against salmon farms in Tasmania’s estuaries and oceans is growing stronger, as the protest organised by Neighbours of Fishfarming showed.

Speakers detailed the disastrous impact of the growth in salmon farming on what used to be pristine oceans.

“We want the polluting pens OUT of our inshore waterways. We want them OUT of the Huon River. We want our reefs full of life, not brown algae muck,” a flyer from Neighbours of Fishfarming said.

Local resident and activist Bob Brown, author and activist Richard Flanagan and Alistair Allan from Sea Shepherd were there in support.

Local farmer Paul Thomas talked about the depletion of fish species, the heavy nutrient scum growth on the rocks, the loss of the area as a fish nursery and the damage caused to waterways by industrial lights at night.

Lisa Litjens, Neighbours of Fishfarming vice president, spoke about the depletion of krill — the main supply for migrating whales.

The endangered Maugean skate population has declined by almost half, between 2014 to 2021, in Macquarie Harbour, one of their last remaining habitats: it has been significantly impacted by salmon fish farming and its polluting bi-products.

Tasmanian Greens MLC Rosalie Woodruff referred to the disaster in 2016 in Macquarie Harbour, when low levels of oxygen caused the death of 1.35 million salmon. She said it was an omen of what is to come on the east coast, if nothing is done by salmon farmers.

The regulations are weak and the industry is strong and growing. It has moved into the Tasmania Peninsula where green slime is now choking the channel near Port Arthur.

The rally called for fish farms to be removed from estuaries and for a truly independent environmental protection authority to be set up to investigate.

Kirsten Bacon, chef and film producer, announced the launch of the “Off the table” campaign to take farmed salmon off menus as an unsustainable food.

[For further information read Richard Flanagan’s Toxic: The Rotting Underbelly of the Tasmanian Salmon Industry.]

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