Okehampton Bay Salmon Farming Operation
– The facts – Okehampton Bay
– Industry first water monitoring
– Prosser Plains raw water scheme
– Tassal recruits job seekers
– Meet our team – Rob Taylor
– The locals have their say
– Spring Bay Seafoods – Phil Lamb
Okehampton Bay Update
Tassal would like to advise that pre-stocking due diligence is still underway and the company continues to work through regulatory conditions.
As mentioned previously Tassal proposes to lease a purpose built shore base from Spring Bay Seafoods to support aquaculture operations at Okehampton Bay. The Development Application is currently lodged with the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council.
Tassal will release an information booklet to local stakeholders by June 1st providing details on our Okehampton Bay project, including maps of the area and information regarding the proposed wharf. The booklet will be sent out to 2,400 households on the East Coast, available at Glamorgan Spring Bay Council, local key locations and from the Tassal website.
A public information day on Tassal job opportunities at Okehampton Bay will take place on Wednesday May 24th.
Tassal details Okehampton Bay plans
Tassal is undertaking pre-stocking due diligence and is not in a position to confirm fish entry dates until that is completed, however if possible the intention is to put fish in the water in August 2017 pending the completion of all regulatory conditions.
Fish entry dates will be communicated as soon as they can be confirmed.
Tassal appreciates that the $30 million investment in Triabunna will deliver significant social and economic outcomes for the community through the creation of jobs and positive flow on effects this has across community sectors.
Works on site will be starting mid-2017 as stated previously. The DA for the shore based infrastructure is progressing.
Tassal understands there has been ongoing confusion over salmon farming in Mercury Passage, and reconfirms there will be no salmon farming in Mercury Passage.
A stakeholder update will be posted on our website under the Okehampton banner before May 15th
In response to the recent TV advertisement regarding Okehampton Bay and fish waste.
The advertisement is nonsensical and the figures used are not accurate.
It is not correct to compare fish waste with human sewage. The main reason for legitimate concern with human sewage is the spread of human disease and contaminants. This is not a factor with fish waste. In fact, fish convert food much more efficiently than humans and the composition and nitrogen levels are different making a simple “poop” comparison impossible.
Further, in the context of the ocean, fish waste equals nutrients. The ocean is where fish waste should be (for the benefit of the ecosystem) and must be. This is how nature re-circulates nutrients and there is nothing unnatural about the way farmed salmon contribute to this process.
Timelines and updates of the Marine Farming Review Panel assessment of Okehampton Bay Marine site
On August 12th the State Government requested an independent assessment by the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel of salmon farming at Okehampton Bay, within the Great Oyster Bay Marine Farming Development Plan.
The Panel consists of eight members and includes experts representing various interests including the Environment Protection Authority, recreational boaters, marine farming, marine resource management and local Government issues.
The Terms of Reference that the Panel will provide advice on are:
- The environmental science supporting the proposed environmental monitoring and management of salmon farming at Okehampton Bay;
- The adequacy of the environmental baseline data and surveys to allow the Director, Environment Protection Authority to establish a contemporary environmental management regime for the proposed marine farming activity; and
- The adequacy of the plan to allow for the implementation of a contemporary environmental management regime.
The process invited public and expert submissions at the end of August; that comment period is now closed and those submissions are under review.
The panel is expected to report back in early 2017, with advice on whether the current plan is suitable to ensure the sustainable environmental management of salmonid farming at Okehampton Bay.
Tassal is still planning to enter fish into Okehampton Bay in early 2018, pending the outcome of the review. Tassal is also contributing information to the local planning process through Springbay Seafoods to facilitate the development of supporting infrastructure for their farming operations.
Update for the shore-based site – Spring Bay Seafoods
- Re-zoning and development approval of the shore-base at Spring Bay Seafood’s was majority supported by Glamorgan Spring Bay councillors and is currently in the planning process as directed by the Tasmanian Planning Commission. Further updates will be provided as they become available.
Update for the proposed dam project
- Tassal does require a supply of freshwater to support their marine operations.
- Benthic survey work of sandy substrate has been completed for the below sea pipe-line which will be used to supply freshwater to site and the proposed project is currently in the planning process with Crown Lands department.
- The dam development assessment report is in the early stages of the environmental planning process and further updates will follow typical hydrological, flora and fauna, and cultural heritage assessment by independent experts, as required by DPIPWE for issue of a water licence.
Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Update
- Currently Tassal have deployed 3 native kelp species within the Okehampton lease area as an initial leading pilot program to off-set nitrogen waste from salmon farming.
- Okehampton will provide an opportunity for this adaptive environmental farming practice to extend to other existing Tassal sites.
Okehampton Lease Monitoring Update
- Confirmation of specific environmental sampling requirements in addition to any previous base-line conducted at Okehampton and Great Oyster Bay, will be directed by the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel in accordance with current regulation.
- Current updated and further refined bathymetry (sea floor mapping) has been completed and average depth of the lease is between 22-26 metres as previously communicated (similar profile to other existing farming sites – including the Channel, Dover, and at Tasman Peninsula).
- ADCP probe (ocean current speed and direction) will be retrieved and additional data collated to build on 30+ months of data recorded by Tassal’s Environmental Management team at Okehampton.
- Latest technology real-time profiler (temp. DO., salinity) to be deployed in coming weeks, building on the previous data collected from the existing probes.
Tassal & Spring Bay Seafoods Sublease
1. Around 3 years ago, Tassal first explored growing Salmon at both Okehampton Bay and in the Mercury Passage on leases held by Spring Bay Seafoods. This was subject to the leases being both environmentally and socially acceptable to grow Salmon. Tassal and Spring Bay Seafoods entered into a Heads of Agreement in 2014 to reflect these discussions.
2. Tassal determined that the Mercury Passage was not an appropriate site to grow Salmon from a social licence perspective. Accordingly, Tassal did not pursue this lease space and has no intention of pursuing a lease in the Mercury Passage. Tassal is unequivocal about this. Tassal does not have any agreement with Spring Bay Seafoods to lease the Mercury Passage site in the future, and has no rights over Spring Bay Seafoods’ lease in the Mercury Passage. Around 2 years ago, Tassal actively conducted the science for the environmental sustainability of Okehampton Bay only.
3. We note that the Recitals to an Agreement are only a preamble and simply an overview of discussions between parties to an Agreement and are not the legal operative provisions of the Agreement. This is why Mercury Passage is referenced within the Okehampton Sublease with Spring Bay Seafoods, but only as a Recital. We emphasise that Tassal has no rights to the Mercury Passage lease either in the Okehampton Sublease with Spring Bay Seafoods nor any other agreement, and does not seek now or in the future to have access to this lease.
4. Further, it is important to note that the Great Oyster Bay & Mercury Passage Marine Farm Development Plan (1998 Modified 2010)is the relevant statutory document which prescribes the zones in which marine farming may take place and the species which may be farmed. Mercury Passage – Lease 164 – is located in Zone 13 in Mercury Passage and is prescribed as being suitable for shellfish and seaweed only. The Marine Farm Licence which Spring Bay Seafoods operates under authorizes the company to farm shellfish only on Lease 164.
Tassal submission to the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel regarding marine finish farming at Okehampton Bay.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW
Water Quality Graphs
Confirming No Expansion into Mercury Passage
Tassal would like to confirm unequivocally that we are not and will not be seeking, applying for or amending any lease space in Mercury Passage. Tassal’s lease agreement with Spring Bay Seafoods only is for the Okehampton Bay lease – MF 236.
For clarification, Spring Bay Seafoods and Tassal have been in discussions around opportunities in Triabunna for some years. Tassal was interested in Triabunna as an area, as it was where part of our Salmon processing is carried out, there was an existing fin fish lease in place and we were interested in trialling IMTA (Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture). Spring Bay Seafoods was interested to work with Tassal due to our balanced approach to sustainable aquaculture. IMTA was seen as a great opportunity to explore between Salmon, Mussels and Seaweed, with Seaweed considered an excellent opportunity for both companies.
Some facts on Tassal’s Okehampton Bay Lease (#236) agreement with Spring Bay Seafoods:
- This lease was issued to Spring Bay Salmon P/L in 2002 for the purpose of finfish farming in Okehampton Bay. Confirming that Atlantic salmon can be grown at this lease. As part of the requirements a Baseline Environmental Survey was completed and submitted to DPIPWE at that time.
- Spring Bay Seafoods (SBSF) purchased the lease in Okehampton Bay from Spring Bay Salmon in 2007 and commenced marine farming thereafter (mussels). The company has conducted basic environmental monitoring on this lease since 2007 and in accordance with its license requirements and sustainability reporting to Friend of The Sea and NASAA (organic certification)
- As the current leaseholders the Okehampton Bay marine lease, Spring Bay Seafoods pay an annual lease fee as per all other current marine farming leases in Tasmanian waters. Tassal have entered an agreement with SBSF to occupy part of the lease whilst SBSF maintain juvenile mussel stock on the same lease.
- Spring Bay Seafoods added Atlantic salmon to their Marine farming license for Okehampton Bay (236) on May 1st 2016
- Tassal and Spring Bay Seafoods signed our sublease agreement for Okehampton Bay (236), with Spring Bay Seafoods on May 27th 2016
Tassal confirms that in 2014 it examined both the lease in Okehampton Bay and the lease in Mercury Passage to understand the suitability for Salmon farming. However, through our detailed due diligence we determined that that only Okehampton Bay was suitable for Salmon farming. Mercury Passage and specifically lease MF 164 (owned by SBSF) was not suitable for Salmon farming due to social and environmental reasons.
The reasons that lease MF 164 was not suitable was as follows:
- Impact on local tourism and Maria Island
- Impact on visual amenity of residents
- Impact on the recreational amenity of people that use the area
- Extreme weather
Tassal always considers any strategic options, whether for Salmon or other Seafood on a balanced scorecard basis, there needs to be a balance between financial, operational, social and environmental returns.
This ‘balance’ is important for all stakeholders and illustrates a mature approach to development. Tassal prides ourselves in responding to stakeholder concerns and amend proposals as required based on our balanced approach. Our recent Lippies and Brown site proposals near Dover were amended due to stakeholder concerns for amenity and we have returned our existing Browns lease to the Crown and moved our Lippies site further North in response to stakeholder feedback. We continue to engage and communicate with the communities in which we operate.
Ultimately, our detailed investigations from a science, environment and social licence perspective have led us to the position that – Tassal will not be seeking, applying for or amending any lease space in Mercury Passage.
Tassal would like to confirm unequivocally that we are not and will not be seeking, applying for or amending any lease space in Mercury Passage. Tassal’s lease agreement with Spring Bay Seafoods only is for the Okehampton Bay lease – MF 236.
OKEHAMPTON BAY – WATER QUALITY MONITORING LOCATIONS
- In August 2014, Tassal commenced a broadscale environmental monitoring program off Tasmania’s east coast to establish an environmental baseline for the broader region.
- The particular areas of interest included the collection of water quality information, such as nutrients (i.e. ammonia), phytoplankton assemblages, and physical aspects of the water column (i.e. temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen). So far, 27 consecutive monthly sampling events covering 5 monitoring sites have been completed as part of this environmental monitoring program.
- While the primary aim of this monitoring is to characterise the waters of Okehampton Bay – to establish a baseline and ensure these waters are suitable for finfish farming, an additional four (4) sites were also established to extend this collection of environmental information over the broader region.
- Sites were established at:
- Spring Bay (MP1) – to capture water quality and biological information adjacent in waters likely to be influenced by coastal townships and/or run-off events
- Okehampton Bay (MP2) – to characterise water quality at the proposed farm site
- North Mercury Passage (MP3) – to capture water quality information at the northern extremity of Mercury Passage and potential northern oceanic influences (i.e. East Australian Current)
- Maria Island (MP4) – to establish an environmental baseline in waters adjacent to the Maria Island Marine Protected Area
- Central Mercury Passage (MP5) – to establish an environmental baseline for water quality and potential hydrological influences in waters well south of the proposed farming location (i.e. Okehampton Bay).
- Similar broadscale environmental monitoring programs are undertaken in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, Huon Estuary, Nubeena, Port Arthur and Macquarie Harbour, where there is a range of monitoring locations (40 sites in total) established at broad spatial scales to capture potential system-wide changes to ecosystem condition.
9th September 2016
Baseline study content
Tassal referenced the 2000 Baseline study as part of our company due diligence for modern, commercial application of the site.
The science in the 2000 report is valid and still retains its integrity; what has evolved is the technology allowing increasingly accurate and comprehensive understanding of current (water movement) profiles throughout the water column.
Please see document below.
Key points from the 2000 baseline report which we build upon for our assessment and information we used and/or tested.
- Particle size – indicating moderate bottom current flow
- Temperature profile
- DO profile
- Sediment chemistry and biology
- General habitat characteristics
- Current speeds
Tassal initiated its own water quality sampling work in August 2014 and has completed over two years of consecutive monthly sampling.
This includes the collection of data for nutrients, primary productivity and physical water quality characteristics.
As the graphs below demonstrate, Okehampton Bay is comparable to other established, commercially important sites in the South East.
Current measurement technology has advanced significantly in the last few decades.
In the past, the single point paddle units such as used for the 2000 Baseline report, provided a single depth measurement over time. These units were needed in high numbers to get the required resolution of water flow throughout the entire water column. Another limitation of this older technology was the issues associated with biofouling and the impact this had on data over time.
Current speeds are now measured with Acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP); used for our recent dataset. These units use multi beam technology to determine flows through the entire water column and this data can be post processed and separated to pin point flows in specific depths with high accuracy. These modern day instruments also measure wave heights and can also have a whole range of additional sensors attached to them giving far superior data when compared to past technology.
13th July 2016
On Saturday 18th June 2016, Tassal held a community information day at the Triabunna Community Hall. The event was well attended by over 100 locals from Orford and Triabunna. Tassal has prepared a Community Q&A document which reflects the questions posed by attendees on the day.
Read the document here.
21st June 2016
As we continue to develop our freshwater infrastructure proposal, we would like to keep the community updated, so please see here for a media release from the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council on the 20/6/2016
1st June 2016
In order to provide certainty to the communities of Orford, Spring Bay and Triabunna, Tassal responds to some misinformation which has recently been circulating regarding the company’s intention to develop a shore base, wharf and Salmon farm in the area. We want the local community to know that if you hear information from sources other than Tassal, and if you have a concern, please contact us directly and we will respond promptly.
As a publically listed company, Tassal is subject to strict information rules and guidelines set out by the Australian Stock Exchange with respect to reporting. The penalties for breaching these rules and guidelines are severe. Tassal undertake the necessary due diligence and care in every aspect of our public reporting. It is why we are also ranked globally the equal number 1 for Seafood in Sustainability Reporting as ranked by Seafoodintelligence.com.
Engagement has been undertaken by Tassal in Triabunna, Orford and Spring Bay Area and will continue
- First public discussion by Tassal CEO on radio August 2014
- Between August 2014 and present – formal and informal discussions with representatives of Seafood Industry sector groups (commercial and recreational)
- Meetings with Glamorgan Spring Bay Council (January and March 2015) and regular briefings with relevant staff, including the General Manager
- 2015 Seafest display (main focus of display was Triabunna By product plant, however open discussions with locals re plans at Okehampton Bay
- July 2015 – presentation to Probus club
- October 2015 – Tassal participated in careers day at Triabunna – Okehampton Bay plans openly discussed re job opportunities
- February 2016 – Display re Okehampton Bay plans at official opening of Triabunna By-product plant
- February 2016 – Stakeholder brochure (including maps and proposed timelines available in local outlets incl. Council Offices and on-line media) regarding Okehampton Bay lease)
- March 2016 – presentations and Q&A to Council staff, Triabunna By-product plant staff and Spring Bay Seafoods staff
- April 2016 – Seafest Stand and display, written response to Triabunna Orford Chamber of Commerce
- May 2016 – information display and invitation to GSB residents to Nubeena Information day
- 18 June 2016 – Planned Community Information Session, Community Hall – Triabunna
- July 2016 – Presented to East Coast Tourism Council on proposed Okehampton development (VIEW PRESENTATION HERE)
- 10th August 2016 – Presented to NRM East and East Coast Tourism at Swansea meeting plus Q&A session
- 10th August 2016 – In-person meetings with Glamorgan-Spring Bay Council Executive re developments and community engagements
- 25th August 2016 – Triabunna District School – Marine Science Curriculum Program – discussion regarding media articles on Okehampton for student review
- 1st September 2016 – Triabunna District School – Marine Science Curriculum Program – Student discussion re water quality monitoring and techniques used by Tassal by Environment & Sustainability team (in-field display of ROV unit off Deep water jetty – Triabunna)
- 1st September 2016 – brief in-person meeting with Phil Lamb of Spring Bay Seafoods to discuss unfolding developments regarding review of proposed Okehampton development
- 2nd September – Correspondence with Glamorgan-Spring Bay Council regarding review process and proposed meeting/presentation update on 13th September 2016.
Proposed Timeline of Works for Okehampton Bay lease
- Shore base construction – 2016/17
- IMTA* pilot – 2016/17
- Marine infrastructure installation – 2017
- Commercial salmon input – 2018
NOTE: IMTA refers to *Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture or polyculture – ie the growing of Salmon, Mussels and Seaweed.
Key Project Information
- There is a 165m jetty planned in Spring Bay (on Spring Bay Seafoods land access) – not Okehampton Bay. The site is immediately to the south of existing Spring Bay Seafoods wharf. It will be used by both Tassal and Spring Bay Seafoods.
- Tassal has no plans to develop a Salmon, Kingfish or any other finfish farm of any description in Mercury Passage or Marion Bay – this has been clearly communicated to all members of the public who attended the information session at Nubeena. Tassal understands and appreciates the importance of the amenity, recreational and social value of the area.
- Tassal has a Strategic Plan to 2030, together with a supporting plan for site development and we do not have any plans to develop the Mercury Passage shellfish lease for finfish farming. Okehampton Bay is a large sized lease and would produce between 8-10% of our annual production. Investing in the Okehampton Bay site makes good business sense. This is not an unusually large investment for the development of a Salmon farming site.
- The Okehampton Bay lease is more than 7km from Spring Beach and more than 7km from Maria Island.
- The next sites we are developing will be exposed, off shore sites in our Tasman farming region.
- Tassal ensures that it will employ locally first, and invests in upskilling staff; mentoring and development will be an important part of the initial recruitment, where we will draw on our experienced staff skill base to provide on the job training.
- Zone 4 in Okehampton Bay is the only marine farming zone that provides for the culture of finfish within the Great Oyster Bay and Mercury Passage Marine Farming Development Plan: (http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/GOBMP-MFDP-October-1998-%28Modified-May-2010%29.pdf).
- Tassal is piloting an integrated multitrophic aquaculture site (IMTA) in the Okehampton lease. This is an ecological approach to marine farming. Salmon, mussels and seaweed can be farmed alongside each other successfully.
- 28 pens are planned within Okehampton Bay – a mix of pen sizes being 120m and 168m in circumference, which equates to approx. 38m and 52m diameter, respectively.
- Tourism ventures currently operate successfully in conjunction with Tassal Salmon farming and we will be encouraging this interaction moving forward.
- Tassal does not grow Genetically Modified (GM) fish nor does it use GM organisms in feed.
- The fate of solid nutrients (faeces) is well understood by Tassal and the regulator. Tassal can have no visual impact outside their marine lease area.
- Tassal has established a broad scale water monitoring program to measure and potential changes to local and far field water quality. This program monitors the impact of dissolved nutrients on the surrounding water body.
- Salmon farms do not cause algal blooms and the recent algal blooms in Chile were the result of an unusual El Nino event. Unusual plankton events were recorded in many parts of the world. Farmed Salmon did die as a result of this bloom; Tassal conducts daily plankton monitoring and has an emergency response plan in place in the event of a harmful algal bloom. To date we have not had to enact an emergency response and have very little mortality, across all our regions due to algal issues.
- Baseline environmental work is currently being undertaken – Tassal has independently commenced an extensive monitoring program in the area. This data has been used to establish an environmental baseline for water quality. To date 23 monthly sampling events have occurred across 5 sampling sites in the Mercury Passage.
- The temperature profile in Okehampton Bay is comparable to many of our other South East farming sites. We have collected multiple years of temperature data and have compared it with historical datasets this has demonstrated that Atlantic Salmon can be farmed successfully in the Okehampton Bay lease. Due to the infrastructure investment required, Tassal has gone through a very thorough due diligence process.
- Temperatures are comparable to our South Eastern farming (SE) sites
- Dissolved Oxygen (DO) is comparable to our SE sites
- Broadscale Environmental Monitoring Program (BEMP) data throughout SE showed same warming trend as Okehampton Bay last year
- Summer 2015/16 water temperatures (in discussion with CSIRO climate scientists) demonstrated a 1 in 100 year marine heatwave that affected all of the SE coast
- Water current speed and direction on the site is very desirable and better suited to modern farming practices than a number of our other farming sites
- The depth, current speeds and tidal movement indicates that this site will be very assimilative and easily compliant to existing benthic regulations.
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