Environmentalists blockade fish farm vessel in Tasmania

Environmentalists and anti-fish farm campaigners have blocked fish transport vessel Aqua Spa (IMO 9839337) from unloading salmon at Long Bay on the Tasman peninsula.

The Bob Brown Foundation (BBF) said that its activists and campaigners had for the first time blocked regional salmon producer Tassal Group’s operations as the company attempted to return salmon to Long Bay.

The NGO’s members and supporters used community boats to block the Aqua Spa from mooring alongside the 16 empty pens in Long Bay and pumping live juvenile salmon into the open cages.

The Aqua Spa is used for bathing fish in freshwater and transporting young fish from Tassal’s nurseries to the grow-out areas in Long Bay. Bathing is done in freshwater to protect against amoebic gill disease.

Members of the community have been calling on the company to remove the Long Bay pens, as recommended by the Tasmanian Legislative Council’s recent finfish inquiry.

Tassal is Australia’s leading seafood producer and the largest producer of Atlantic salmon.

Tasmania’s salmon industry has boomed in the past 40 years. Over the past three decades the value of the island’s salmon industry has grown to around A$1bn a year and there are plans to double that by 2030. The industry directly employs 12,000 people.

However, some environmentalists and conservationists claim that the farmed salmon industry presents a catastrophic threat to marine life and trust in food safety due to risks like toxins and chemicals in food, dead zones on the seafloor to jellyfish and toxic algal blooms.

While the Tasmanian Legislative Council’s inquiry has recommended the pens be removed from shallow, protected waters due to their impact on the ecosystem, the government has not taken any action.

As of August 30th the vessel was stopped in the Tasman Sea, having left Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, on August 26th.

2019-built, Norway-flagged, 4,027 gt Aqua Spa is owned by Solvtrans Rederi III care of manager Solvtrans Rederi AS of Aalesund, Norway.