Welcome to our website
Neighbours of Fish Farming (NOFF) is a community organisation in southern Tasmania. Our objective is to promote sustainable, responsible fish farming, regulated by transparent government and commercial processes.
Calling it out: Misleading claims about salmon hatcheries demolished
A recent article in The Mercury, Hobart, (Aug 29, 2021) headed “Don’t Blame Fish Farms for Ruined Rivers” reported claims that salmon hatcheries have at worst minimal impact on Tasmanian waterways.
One of Australia’s most eminent water scientists, Professor Peter Davies AM, puts that claim to the sword. Professor Davies has an international reputation and consults globally including to the US EPA, the European Union and the Murray Darling Basin Authority. He is adjunct professor at UTas and was honoured with the AM in 2012 “For service to conservation and the environment as a contributor to national water policy development and through research of Australia’s rivers and waterways’.
Public Meeting Cygnet Town Hall 11am Saturday 18 September – hear Flanagan on Toxic
Huon Aquaculture Takeover – TAMP and NOFF call on Tasmanian Government to stand up to rogue multinational
TAMP and NOFF today called on Tasmanian Premier Gutwein to reassure Tasmanians after plans to sell salmon producer Huon Aquaculture to a Brazilian multinational with a reputation for corruption were revealed at night on Friday.
The multinational JBS has a shocking track record of corrupt practices, tax evasion and accusations of circumventing environmental regulations in the Amazon rainforest. In Tasmania, JBS already has a reputation for taking subsidies in the meat industry from government with one hand, while closing meat works and sacking workers with the other. Its track record overseas is even more shocking, including a $US280 million dollar fine for bribery in the United States, tax evasion charges and circumventing environmental laws in the Amazon rainforests to “greenwash” cattle grown in illegal clearings.
Mr Gutwein needs to reassure Tasmanians that regulations, enforcement and penalties will all be reviewed and tightened immediately while the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will be given all the resources to police what is already a rogue industry. Huon Aquaculture’s major shareholders, Peter and Frances Bender, have always claimed they put Tasmania and its workers ahead of all else, and now should explain why they’re abandoning them to a rapacious multinational that cares not a jot for the state, for its workers or for its environment.
Until the industry gets out of the water and on to land – as is happening with increasing speed everywhere but in Australia – TAMP and its many affiliates will continue to call out the industry, government and regulators.
Read the full text of the press release (2 pages, PDF) here.
Is salmon farming on land viable?
The industry says no, but does not provide any evidence for their exaggerated cost and energy claims. Here is a simple analysis of the current situation, showing how land-based aquaculture is increasing around the world (4 pages, PDF).
Number of harmful algal blooms strongly correlated with intensified aquaculture production
That’s the conclusion of 109 scientists reporting to UNESCO after spending seven years analysing almost 10,000 harmful algal blooms that have occurred over the past 33 years. They report:
The number of recorded harmful algal bloom events over time was strongly correlated with intensified aquaculture production in all regions with data suitable for the study.
And if that’s not enough to pause the Gutwein Government’s plans for a sea grab to drive a massive expansion of the industry, here’s another warning from the UN body: UNESCO says there’s a major gap in our understanding of the way the nutrient-rich filth caused by fish faeces and wasted food creates those poisonous algal blooms.
This huge research project was led by our own Prof. Gustaaf M. Hallegraeff of the University of Tasmania.
Toxic, by Richard Flanagan
Richard Flanagan’s book Toxic: The Rotting Underbelly of the Tasmanian Salmon Industry is a scorcher. In bookstores now.
As Penguin says: “Flanagan busts open an industry that is as secretive as its practices are destructive and disturbing. If you care about what you eat, if you care about the environment, this is a book you need to read. Toxic is set to become a landmark book of the twenty-first century.”
The salmon industry once again surprises us with another of its health and environmental disasters
Fortunately for Tasmania, this latest disaster in industrial Atlantic salmon production is in Chile. This is what happens when you overstock, push the marine environment to the limit, ignore the warning signs of ocean and climate warming – and just keep expanding in the name of profits over planet. So far more than 2 million kilos of fish have suffocated to death from toxic algae in just a few weeks in Chile. Huon, Tassal and Petuna can’t say they don’t know what’s coming their way.
Leading Tasmanian restaurant drops farmed fish from menus
A leading Tasmanian restaurant responds to customer requests and drops Tasmanian farmed fish from its menu – and says other restaurants are doing likewise. Listen to the ABC Radio report (7 mins).
EPA emails to Tassal revealed
The scale and cause of the deaths of a large number of farmed salmon in February remain a mystery, with documents obtained by the ABC revealing the director of Tasmania’s environmental watchdog assured the fish producer he “did not provide a detailed or complete response” to questions from the broadcaster.
The salmon you buy in the future may be farmed on land
In a series of indoor tanks 40 miles south west of Miami, Florida, five million fish are swimming in circles a very long way from home. The fish in question are Atlantic salmon, which are far more typically found in the cold waters of Norway’s fjords or Scotland’s lochs.
As the species is not native to Florida, and would be unable to cope with the state’s tropical heat, the water tanks are kept well chilled, and housed in a vast, air-conditioned and heavily insulated warehouse-like building. The facility intends to be the world’s largest land-based fish farm. Read on . . . (and all the waste is sold as fertiliser instead of being dumped on the ocean floor).
Huon Island is dying
NOFF calls on industrial salmon producers to quit the Huon before it is completely destroyed by their reckless practices and start transitioning to land based salmon production as a matter of urgency.
Releasing a video, NOFF president, Peter George, said the footage clearly shows reefs at Huon Island being killed by algae and marine growth stimulated by toxic nutrient overloads from salmon feeding lots. The video is a joint production of NOFF and TAMP.
- Read the press release (3 pages, PDF)
- Read the marine biology analysis (1 page, PDF)
- Download a high resolution video (20mb MP4)
- Download a low resolution video (4mb MP4)
Shocking footage from Scotland
And here is a link to some extraordinary footage showing what really happens in fish pens, in this case in Scotland (caution: may cause distress).
Tasmania missing out
Tasmania is missing out on both economic and environmental benefits from salmon farming in the state, according to the co-chair of the Tasmanian Alliance for Marine Protection, Peter George. “In the latest round of Norwegian auctions for salmon farming licences, 30 Norwegian companies have paid an average of A$34,000 for each tonne of production. This underlines how much Tasmania has to gain if only the state’s politicians had the courage to make Tassal, Huon Aquaculture and Petuna pay the true market price for their leases,” Mr George said. “The industry earns millions each year but returns peanuts to the state”.
NOFF study shows salmon industry and government websites are of little use as sources of information
A recent study by NOFF identifies issues about the usability and content of the websites of the leading players in the Tasmanian salmon farming industry: Tassal, Huon Aquaculture, Petuna, DPIPWE and the EPA. Some of the websites appear on first examination to be quite good examples of modern website design, however each of them has flaws in structure, content and indexing. Taken together, there are inconsistencies in content, indexing and terminology which make it impossible for members of the public to access data on specific aspects of the industry on a state or regional basis, or across time.
State of Storm Bay report shows cultural and natural values, gaps in current information
There are serious concerns about the potential impacts of the planned expansion of salmon farming into Tasmania’s Storm Bay, including impacts on the natural, community and economic values of the region. The report identifies these current values, provides an extensive list of references to other sources of information, and calls for an independent State of Storm Bay Report, to ensure that existing information is readily available, major gaps highlighted, and a case made to address these, before any expansion.
- Click here to download the summary report (18 pages, PDF)
- Click here to download the natural values map (one page, PDF)
- Click here to download the community values map (one page, PDF)
Environment Tasmania report shows high levels of pollution in Derwent and Florentine headwaters
A scientific report for Environment Tasmania shows high levels of pollution in the headwaters of the Derwent and Florentine rivers, downstream from two salmon hatcheries. It reveals very high nutrient levels in both the outfalls and downstream rivers, ranging from 5 to more than 128 times upstream levels. Significant levels of fouling were also observed on the rocks and river bed downstream. Coliform and E coli bacteria levels in one outfall were extremely high, and there was a strong odour and visible slick in the area.
- Click here to download the media release (2 pages, PDF)
- Click here to download the report (3 pages, PDF)
- Click here to view the documentary film footage (Youtube)
Making mountains out of minnows: Salmon in the Tasmanian economy
The Australia Institute reports that the economic benefit of the salmon industry to Tasmania is weighted strongly against its environmental and social impacts. Yet it accounts for just 1% of jobs in the state.
Over 5 years $3.8 billion worth of fish were sold, but just $64 million tax paid, while $9.3 million in subsidies were received in 2 years. Changing generous leasing arrangements to the Norwegian model could raise $2 billion for community development.
Download our media release (PDF, 2 pages)
Few companies follow their own industry standards
In September 2018 Seachoice published a report which reviewed how well the world’s fish farming industry conforms to the standards of its own Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). Their review states that the ASC “responsibly farmed” eco-label is considered the gold Standard of farmed seafood eco-certifications. But our review of ASC certified salmon farms around the world reveals only a small proportion of farms follow the eco-label’s stipulated criteria, yet they are still being certified. Their analysis of Australia (PDF, 6 pages) reveals significant non-conformities with the standard. Their summary recommendation is that It is critical that eco-certifications are leading to genuine changes on the water and not simply rewarding business as usual.