Photo: A dead sperm whale found in Scotland with a stomach full of rope, netting and plastic. Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme.
Marine debris in our oceans is a rapidly growing threat to marine life, and we are only just starting to understand how big the problem is. The CSIRO believes that 14 million tonnes of plastic pollution can be found onthe sea floor, with eight million tonnes more entering the water each year. Add to this the enormous amount of rope, styrofoam, piping and other bits of infrastructure lost from aquaculture and the fishing industry each year, and the problem becomes overwhelming.
In lutruwita/Tasmania, local communities are consistently finding lengths of rope and bits of plastic in their waterway and on their beaches that have been lost or discarded by the industrial salmon industry. It is little wonder when you consider the huge quanitaties of plastic used by feedlot salmon companies in our oceans each year. Tassal has admitted to using more than 500 tonnes of plastic, rope and netting in their operations each year - it is simply not possible to keep track of that much of rubbish. With 500 tonnes each year coming from just one company, the scale of the threat to marine life is enormous.
Photo: A Huon Aquaculture fish feeder washed up on a nipaluna/Hobart beach.
Not only is this waste a risk to precious marine life, it is also a hazard to the community of people who make use of public waterways. In early 2020 a local recreational fisher had their engine fouled by a length of rope from Tassal, and sailors are so used to encountering fish farm rubbish that they are changing the way they sail. Even entire pens have drifted onto public beaches in Tasmania. Feedlot salmon infrastructure represents a significant safety threat to ocean users.
With hundreds of tonnes of rope, netting, and plastic already being used as business-as-usual and with so much of it ending up in waterways, it is little wonder that ocean-loving communities around the island and right across the world are concerned about the massive planned expansions into places like Storm Bay, the Tasman Peninsula, the North West, King Island, and Bruny Island. An increase in feedlot salmon activity in public waters means an increase risk of marine debris threatening wildlife and people using the water.
You can help. By signing out petition to the supermarkets - the biggest buyers of feedlot salmon - we can clean up this industry, and our oceans, for good.