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).
In Tasmania, fur seals are amongst 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.
Operators must meet or exceed the infrastructure standards described in the Minimum Requirements 2018A
for exclusion of wildlife from fish containment pens. When the standards are met, the Department can also authorise the use of approved secondary management tools, including seal 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.
has also provided guidance on where and when shorebirds may be most vulnerable and general operational limits are in place from 1 September – 31 March, with some shoreline areas classified as 'avoid disturbance' and others as 'minimise disturbance – seek advice'. Aquaculture operators have been advised to seek advice from Birdlife Tasmania prior to any targeted marine debris removal from sensitive bird breeding habitat during breeding season.