Whilst I agree with Jess Coughlan (Mercury 7 February) about the degradation of our aquatic eco-system due to aquaculture activity I strongly disagree that the answer is to “move the entire farming system on land”.
There is no doubt our aquaculture has been poorly managed at regulatory level for many years but the proposition that we can move our salmon industry on land in Tasmania is simply absurd, not a single farmer I have spoken to have either the land or water resources available for such farming to occur, but the idea is presented constantly by those intent on closing down our aquaculture industry.
With very few exceptions large scale land based salmon farming operations anywhere in the world are serious polluters of their river systems, such systems in Europe contain up to 27 different diseases attempted to be managed with large doses of anti-biotics.
No eco-sensitive Tasmanian is wanting to see that happen here, especially those who enjoy our pristine inland fly-fishing, a tourist magnet that would be destroyed forever, if we were to: “move the entire farming system on land”.
The only possible ‘on land’ salmon farming model Tasmanians would embrace is the model perfected by the Pyka family at Deloraine with their closed loop system of ponds and wetlands which leaves the river system when it leaves their property cleaner that when it entered. A beautiful outcome, but very land and water intensive. They have 20-30 acres of wetland producing 10 tonnes of salmon per year, their reported 10 fold expansion would yield a maximum 100 tonnes per year, a mere drop in the ocean compared to the current 60,000+ tonnes from sea based production.
So, we have a decision to make: improve our aquaculture practices, or send it elsewhere, because it’s never going to be moved at any large scale onto land in Tasmania. If we do send it elsewhere, other polluters will do much more harm to the world’s oceans than we could begin to imagine.
Rick Cazaly. Lenah Valley.
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