Animal Welfare and Wildlife Interactions

​​​​​​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. 

Operators must comply with the requirements of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1995​ and maintain detailed records of chemicals used within operations, including therapeutants, anaesthetics, antibiotics and hormones. 

Prior to any stock being treated with therapeutants, operators must receive appropriate authorisation from the Department and comply with any residue testing requirements. 

Find out more about Animal Welfare​.

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
  • posing a work health and safety risk to marine farm workers.
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:​

Regulatory controls

​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.  

​Salmon aquaculture operators are additionally subject to practice and infrastructure requirements as set out in the Seal Management Framework 2018 and the associated Minimum Req​​​uirements 2018A.

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.

Physical infrastructure ​

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.

As outlined in the Tasmanian Salmon Industry​ Plan 2023, the Department will update the Seal Management Framework and minimum requirements.​


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. 

Notifications of seal mortalities are available on the Tasmanian Salmon Farming Data Portal.

Wildlife interaction data from salmon farming operations are reported biannually on the Active ​Disclosures Log.


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.

BirdLife Tasmania 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.