The second independent broadscale environmental monitoring report into salmon farming in Storm Bay has determined that fish farming has not had a system-wide influence on water quality, soft sediment, inshore reef or deep reef habitats.

Conducted by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) the Broadscale Environmental Monitoring Program (BEMP) report assessed the potential farming impact of both Huon Aquaculture's Yellow Bluff marine lease and Tassal's West of Wedge marine lease.

Huon's CEO, Philip Wiese says the purpose of the BEMP was to document, on an ongoing basis, broadscale spatial and temporal trends in key environmental parameters.

'Pleasingly, these results showed healthy sediments, high species diversity and a healthy canopy cover at all reef sites,' says Mr Wiese. 'There was no evidence of change in the inshore and deep reef communities of Storm Bay, despite limited occurrences of enrichment status species such as epiphytic and filamentous algae.'

Mr Wiese says that while there were elevated levels of chlorophyll a at some of the 20 test sites these were all located near active marine leases, although the report also indicated the elevated levels may be the result of other nutrient inputs from the Derwent Estuary, 'Like any farming, fish farming creates localised, short-term effects which is why all leases are fallowed regularly, year-classes of fish are separated and also why every operational marine site is regularly surveyed by ROV (average every 3-4 weeks), on top of baseline surveys and annual underwater video surveys – which are provided to the EPA.

'Storm Bay is a dynamic water system and one that is well suited for fish farming, which is why Huon was the first salmon farmer to move into the waters in 2014. The impacts of farming are well understood both beneath pens, 35 metres outside the leases, and now we are better understanding the broader farming area, through this important monitoring tool,' he says. 'The results of this BEMP reinforce the results from the first BEMP issued in July 2021 which confirmed no impact on surrounding habitats in Storm Bay had been detected.'

Research across Storm Bay is ongoing through the State Government commissioned suite of environmental modelling research undertaken by IMAS and CSIRO.

Mr Wiese says that the results are publicly available via the EPA website, 'People can see for themselves, from a reliable and independent research institution, that 7+ years of salmon farming has not had an impact.'

The BEMP was initiated in August 2019 to provide knowledge and information about the surrounding habitats in Storm Bay while a similar BEMP program has also been operating in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and Huon Estuary since 2009.

Visit the Huon Aquaculture website, HERE.

Image credit: Apasciuto on Flickr
(CC BY 2.0)

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