Anglers have been flocking to fishing spots in south-east Tasmania, Australia, following the escape of an estimated 50,000 salmon from a fish farm.
But while many have welcomed the chance to put a fish on the Christmas table, others have sounded a warning about the possible repercussions of the mass break-out. Similar escapes in other parts of the world have resulted in disease being passed onto native fish populations.
And recent proposals to allow commercial fish farming in New Zealand has met with fierce opposition (see InDeep, November 24). The salmon swam free from pens after Huon Aquaculture reported a fire had melted part of an enclosure near Bruny Island earlier this week. No-one was injured.
Dr. Christine Materia of community group, Neighbours of Fish Farming, told abc.net.au the incident was a major concern. “There are ecological considerations, environmental considerations….and the [issue of] escaped fish competing for food with other species,” she said.
“There is also the worry these introduced species will establish populations in the wild.” She suggested that anglers should be remunerated for catching and removing the escaped salmon and the salmon producers should face punishment, including fines.
Jeremy Lyle, an associate professor at Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), said the incident was a concern from an environmental perspective, but a windfall for recreational fishers.
Anglers cashed in on the unexpected harvest. Charlene Kelner said that the Gordon boat ramp was so busy ‘it needed traffic lights.’ Another angler said the fishing was the best it had been for a long time.