Tasmanian aquaculture opponents decry “secret maps” as government develops 10-year plan

The supposed "secret map" that the Tasmanian government has created, showing potential areas of growth for the salmon industry.

Neighbours of Fish Farming (NOFF), a group promoting “sustainable, responsible fish farming,” has decried the existence of “secret” maps made by the Tasmanian government the organization claims show evidence the government plans to allow for an expansion of local salmon farming.

The government of the Australian state of Tasmania announced it will be developing a 10-year salmon plan, beginning on 1 January, 2023, according to the Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water Guy Barnett. In a press statement, Barnett said the new plan will center on innovation, continuous improvement, and world-leading practices, and will take into account three principles, one of which is a commitment to no net increase in leased farming areas in Tasmanian waters.

A key part of the new plan is an immediate 12-month ban on new exploration permits, to allow new exploration permits to be considered in the context of the 10-Year Salmon Plan. The ministry will also be developing new research and innovation programs to support salmon farming offshore and salmon farming onshore in land-based systems.

“We will build on our strong foundations and achieve this through improved regulation and transparency, new research, and innovation programs, and a new industry fee structure to re-invest into compliance and monitoring, and to ensure full cost recovery and an appropriate return to the Tasmanian community,” Barnett said. “Over the next 12 months, the plan will be developed and will allow industry and the community to identify new long-term actions that support our vision for a sustainable industry, which continues to support Tasmanian jobs and businesses across the supply chain. 

The ministry will also continue to adhere to science from internationally respected institutions, including IMAS, CSIRO, and the Blue Economy CRC to inform sustainability through appropriate planning and regulation, Barnett said.

A key promise in the new salmon plan is the proposal that there will be “no net increase in leased farming areas in Tasmanian waters,” Barnett said.

However, leaked maps acquired by NOFF appear to show areas labeled “grow” and “no grow” that are much larger than maps made in 2017, implicating that the Tasmanian Marine Spatial Planning Committee could be planning new areas for salmon farming.

“The existence of secret maps – denied by government for weeks – that identify areas of Tasmania’s coastline suitable for industrial salmon production has been confirmed at a webinar of scientists,” NOFF said in a release.

NOFF is calling on the government to release the original maps to the public “for all Tasmanians to see.”

Julian Amos of the Salmonid Growers Association told a local ABC affiliate that the industry has no plans to expand, and that the first map in 2017 was made to suggest “no-go” zones, but has been misinterpreted.

"The idea that the map is a prelude to salmon farms springing up all around the coastline is nonsense," he said. "The map has been more of a problem than it has been of assistance to everybody and it has given the wrong impression to those who are critics of the industry, that the industry is on a rampage. It simply isn't.”  

Photo courtesy of Neighbours of Fish Farming


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