Tasmanian aquaculture industry claims fur seals as threat

Despite the fact that there have only been two Tasmanian fish farm workers have filed reports about being injured by seals in the past five years, the Tasmanian aquaculture industry claims that fur seals are a threat, with critics calling for a review of the methods used to deter the hungry animals.

The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) have approved a number of “permit to deter” applications from salmon producers — Tassal lodged 331, Huon Aquaculture 151 and Petuna filed 22 applications, between November 1, 2017, and June 26, 2018.

Earlier this month, the ABC reported 8,795 shotgun-fired beanbag rounds and more than 130,000 underwater explosives were used as part of a seal deterrent regime by the industry, endorsed by DPIPWE.

“This is really disproportionate, it’s an astonishing number of uses of these highly dangerous deterrents,” said Malcolm Caulfield, founder and principal lawyer of the Animal Welfare Community Legal Centre in Tasmania.

Huon has said it was investing $90 million in seal-proof “fortress” pens, while Tassal has said it was investing $70 million.

Both companies said seal deterrents were key to ensuring duty of care for staff.

By Henry Zwartz and James Dunlevie

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