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Tasmania’s Stories

Planet needs salmon, says WWF

Edition 180_Salmon cages in south-east Tasmania

World Wildlife Fund Australia (WWF) has called on Australians to appreciate the merits of Tasmania's salmon industry, saying aquaculture is needed to save wild fisheries and feed a growing global population.

And The Australian newspaper has backed the WWF, reporting: "Opponents of salmon farming seek to paint it as 'the next forestry' with connotations of devastated environments, regulatory failure and industry over-reach.

"What it does undoubtedly represent is a golden opportunity for Tasmania to demonstrate a new maturity, to show it is capable of fostering new industries without trashing its hard-won brand."

WWF urged Australians to consider the broader benefits of expanding aquaculture, warning that without it the world would fail to sustainably feed a global population of 9.7 billion expected by 2050.

Chief Executive, Dermot O’Gorman, told Matthew Denholm of The Australian: “We’ve identified food production and agriculture expansion as one of the biggest threats to wildlife, landscapes and habitats.

"That’s why we are committed to finding a solution of how to produce food more sustainably.

“If we do it under the current business model, there is not the land space or the water space … the numbers don’t add up.”

Mr O’Gorman said about 30 per cent of the world’s wild fisheries were over­fished and 60 per cent of the remainder were being fished to maximum sustainable levels.

"We are projected to need another 31 million tonnes of seafood over the next decade," Mr O'Gorman said. "Aquaculture [will] have to play an important part.”

The gross value of all Australian fisheries increased by 12 per cent to $2.8 billion in 2014-15, according to recently released statistics from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARES).

While a wild rock lobster boom was a key driver of this value growth, the ABARES report revealed that the aquaculture sector was becoming increasingly important, largely as a result of increased Tasmanian salmonid production.

It said salmonids accounted for 53 per cent of the total value of national aquaculture production.

Tasmania has the largest share of any State or Territory of the gross value of fisheries production, at 30 per cent.

Denholm reported in a separate article in The Australian that salmon was replacing tuna as the fish of choice for home consumption and was seriously denting Australians' reputations as rabid red meat eaters.

"Tasmanian salmon — fresh vibrantly coloured, plucked from the pristine waters of the Island State and chock-full of omega 3 — is a naturally attractive option and one an increasing number of us are finding hard to resist," he wrote.

"Already the average family of four consumes almost 10kg of salmon a year and demand for the product is growing: sales are rising by $100 million a year — $2 million a week."

Denholm said the success of the salmon industry was a riposte to critics of Tasmania.

"With home-grown know-how and vision, [Tasmanians] built the largest fishery by value in the country, worth $720 million a year and directly employing more than 2,000 — indirectly thousands more.

"It is Tasmania’s largest agribusiness."

In January, the Australian Workers Union organised a rally in Hobart in support of the industry and drew representatives of both the Government and Opposition.

Denholm wrote in The Australian that the industry had demonstrated an ability to adapt, improving pen design and cleaning methods, adjusting fish stocks and working with external auditors to gain top-flight environmental accreditation.

Tassal and Petuna have highly respected Aquaculture Stewardship Council accreditation across their entire operations, while Huon Aquaculture is working towards it.

“Tasmania will then be the first salmon aquaculture industry to get close to 100 per cent certification; that’s a great achievement,” Mr O’Gorman told Denholm.

Denholm's earlier article had references to key issues raised in a highly critical Four Corners television report on the industry.

But the article seemed to be guiding the public debate towards a more balanced and moderate viewpoint.

If you didn't know the history of similar arguments in Tasmania you might even be encouraged.

Footnote: Events in the industry in February included a directive to Tassal from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to remove all fish from its Franklin lease in Macquarie Harbour by the end of the month. The lease was subject to 14 non-compliance issues identified in an underwater survey in September. The EPA's action followed quickly on Huon Aquaculture announcing an appeal in the Supreme Court against a ruling by the EPA and the Minister of Primary Industries that the harbour could safely stock 14,000 tonnes of salmon. Huon wants the limit reduced, but the Government will oppose the appeal. Neither Tassal nor Petuna, the other Macquarie Harbour salmon producers, have joined Huon's action.

 

8 February 2017, Edition 180

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Facts about Tasmania

Tasmania

Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.

Tasmania

Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012-13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.

Geography

Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.

Geography

The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island's land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.

Geography

About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.

Climate

Twice named 'Best Temperate Island in the World' by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.

Climate

In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.

Population

The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of Mt Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania's highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.

Flora

Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.

Flora

Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King's holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.

Fauna

Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.

Fauna

The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.

Fauna

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania's predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.

Economy

A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.

Economy

Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world's biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.

Economy

The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.

Economy

Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.

Economy

Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.

Economy

The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.

Economy

Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.

Economy

The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the state's gross product in 2010-11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

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