Tassal’s proposed offshore finfish farm could prove dangerous for yacht racers

Published on
July 19, 2016

Australian salmon company Tassal is facing criticism over its plan to develop a new fish farm that would obstruct the course for the Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race.

Tassal, which is Australia’s largest salmon producer and one of the largest employers in Tasmania, intends to build its first offshore farm within a 860-hectare zone west of Wedge Island in Storm Bay in Tasmania's southern region, reported ABC News.

However, establishing a farm in the area could put yachtsmen competing in the Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race – which has been around for more than 70 years – in danger, particularly during the home stretch of the race, according to the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, the finishing partner for the competition.

"You've got yachtsmen who have been racing hard since Boxing Day and they hit Storm Bay and suddenly find that they are confronted with the hazard of a fish farm," Biddy Badenach, the race's finishing coordinator, told ABC News.

Badenach said the fish farm could cause trouble for racers due to the prevailing winds in the area steering yachts into the area of the farm.

"During the evening [the yachts] tack in close to the shore to get the land breeze and that is the difficulty," he said. "They tack up the shore and they clear Wedge Island but now they'd have to tack right out to go around the fish farm."

As of now, Tassal has put forth a proposal for its finfish farming zone that includes four leases of 45 hectares; the proposal awaits Tasmanian Government approval.

"Tassal will develop an environmental impact statement and engage in community consultation,” a Tassal spokesperson told ABC News. “2019 and 2020 are dates identified for operations if all goes well in terms of approvals. Tassal has not officially heard from MAST (Marine and Safety Tasmania) re[garding] Storm Bay navigation, but is expecting information in writing early in the week. Once that information is received and evaluated, Tassal will work with the yacht club on its issues."

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