Aquaculture Magazine

Tassal claims Huon lagging behind on ASC push for salmon farms

Australia’s Tassal Group said its rival Huon Aquaculture Group is lagging behind on getting Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification for its farms, as the two farmers trade public blows relating to growing salmon in Macquarie Harbour.

According to Tassal, Huon is issuing “inaccurate information” about the former’s “sustainability practices, its Macquarie Harbour leases, and long term approach to growing salmon in Tasmania”. Huon has filed a lawsuit alleging Tassal has breached its biomass limit in the harbor, which Tassal denies.

Also, Tassal said it was the first salmon farmer in the world to get ASC across all its sites.

“Maintaining ASC certification is a priority for Tassal and all its employees. It is very difficult to obtain and maintain ASC certification. As evidence of the robustness of the Tasmanian salmon industry's regulations and practices, the Tasmanian industry has the only two salmon producers - globally – Tassal and Petuna Aquaculture - with ASC certification across their entire business for harvest fish,” said Tassal.

“We note that Huon Aquaculture has two of its leases certified to ASC. Should Huon Aquaculture attain ASC accreditation across all its leases, it would be a wonderful endorsement for the Tasmanian salmon industry,” the company said.

Huon’s executive director and co-founder, Frances Bender, has warned that too many salmon have been allowed to grow in the Macquarie Harbour region.

However, Tassal said it is “strongly positioned for sustainable growth and has an excellent track record of environmental compliance and is committed to responsibly managing its salmon farms at Macquarie Harbour, supported by scientific expertise and research”.

Huon has issued legal proceedings against state and federal regulators for various matters in relation to Macquarie Harbour, and Tassal has joined these proceedings on the side of the regulators, as has Petuna.

“Tassal considers all these proceedings to be misconceived. Tassal will vigorously defend the legal proceedings instigated by Huon,” it said.

According to Tassal, it is not in breach of any Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) biomass determination for Macquarie Harbour.

“Tassal has received EPA approval to trial a waste capture system to continue to improve environmental conditions in Macquarie Harbour,” it said.

Any salmon grower in the harbor can stock up to 28 metric tons of fish per hectare if it is using an EPA-approved waste capture system, said Tassal.

Tassal also added Huon has previously “worked proactively” with the state regulator in relation to the exceeding of its nitrogen allocation for leases in the south-east of Tasmania. Despite the “significant” exceeding of its nitrogen allocation input by 42%, Huon continued to grow and adaptively manage this stock, said Tassal.

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