Petuna Aquaculture recently advised the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) of an elevated fish mortality event at its marine farm in Rowella in the state’s north.
The farm experienced a temperature spike in an unusually short time frame, followed by a prolonged period of long hot days.
The incident is continuing to be managed by Petuna, and the dead fish are being removed for disposal. The EPA is not able to provide specific information about the numbers of fish involved. The fish are being disposed of at an EPA approved landfill site.
All salmon companies are required to notify the EPA when mortality rates increase, as per the following licence condition:
“The licence holder must report any suspected or known incidents of disease or mortality affecting >0.25 per cent of fish per day for three consecutive days in any individual cage. Such reports must be provided as soon as possible to the Director and the DPIPWE-assigned fish veterinarian or an inspector under the Animal Health Act 1995”
The companies are not required to provide specific details about the number of fish that have died when they report an incident. The details about the number of fish that have perished are potentially market-sensitive information, and unless the mortality event relates to a disease outbreak, or a loss of dead fish outside of the fish pen, or to a fish escape, the EPA will respect the request of the individual companies and not release information about the numbers of fish involved.
A request for release of information relating to mortalities that are not associated with a disease outbreak or a fish escape can be progressed through the EPA’s Right to Information process, which provides a lawful requirement for the EPA to consult with an affected party if the release of information has the potential to impact upon their business.