Tasmanian aquaculture operates according to high standards of animal welfare and wildlife interaction management, for the benefit of animals, the environment and the industry.
What is Animal Welfare?
Animal welfare is the protection of the health and wellbeing of animals. It is a vital component of operating a responsible, contemporary and productive aquaculture operation.
In aquaculture, animal welfare is tightly linked to biosecurity
matters, and involves water quality, stock density, disease control and fish health.
Strong animal welfare practices within the aquaculture industry are not only beneficial to the animals being farmed, they are also in the best interests of a productive aquaculture operation.
Managing Animal Welfare
The Aquaculture Branch is committed to welfare-oriented practices within the Tasmanian aquaculture industry, which operates according to the Animal Welfare Act 1993
There are several management controls, based on contemporary research and industry best practice guidelines, designed to support animal welfare within Tasmania’s aquaculture industry.
To ensure areas are not over-stocked, operators are required to comply with limits on carrying capacity. Operators are also required to promptly report any significant incident of fish escapes to the Department and to the Environment Protection Authority.
Prior to any stock being treated with therapeutants, operators must receive appropriate authorisation from the Department and comply with any residue testing requirements.
What are Wildlife Interactions?
Aquaculture operations can attract marine wildlife, either by providing habitat or as a potential food source. Wildlife may access food directly (by eating farmed fish or fish food) or indirectly (by preying on wild fish attracted to infrastructure).
Interactions may include marine wildlife:
- entering fish containment pens
- interfering with infrastructure or vessels
- becoming trapped or entangled
- creating holes or damaging netting
- using infrastructure as a resting or roosting site.
In Tasmania, fur seals are the most commonly interacting species and present the greatest management challenges in the infrastructure and operations of salmon aquaculture.
Managing Wildlife Interactions
The Department oversees a legal and policy framework to reduce risks to marine wildlife, industry operations, and the health and safety of people.
Key strategies for minimising wildlife interactions include:
Marine Farming Development Plans set out management controls to mitigate and manage farming operations within marine farming zones, including that operators must not interact with wildlife, except in accordance with the Nature Conservation Act 2002.
As outlined in the Tasmanian Salmon Industry Plan 2023
, the Department will develop new Wildlife Interaction Standards that address potential interactions with marine wildlife species, including seals. The standards will include measures to minimise risk to the health and safety of animals and farmworkers.
The Department works with aquaculture operators to develop and refine physical infrastructure, such as specifically designed pens, to improve animal welfare and worker safety outcomes.
The Seal Management Framework 2018
includes minimum requirements designed to exclude marine animals from accessing salmon pens. The Department can also authorise the use of secondary management tools, including deterrent devices, if required.
Aquaculture operators are required to report wildlife interactions to the Department on a monthly basis, with reports of mortalities and injuries to wildlife occurring within a stricter timeframe. Reported wildlife mortalities are then assessed by the Department as to whether the mortality is attributable to aquaculture activities.
The Tasmanian Government’s online map application, LISTmap
, contains information to identify sensitive bird breeding habitat on the foreshore of Tasmania’s coastline. Traffic light colours indicate the vulnerability level of bird habitat to human-related disturbances during the breeding season.
Before embarking on activities such as shoreline clean-ups, marine debris collections, or invasive plant removal, aquaculture operators and community members are encouraged to consult LISTmap and avoid areas of high vulnerability.