Shoppers being misled by eco-certifications on Macquarie Harbour farmed salmon.
More than 80 organisations from around the globe are calling for the accreditation schemes, Best Aquaculture Practices and GlobalG.A.P., to immediately revoke their ‘sustainability’ certifications from farmed salmon and trout raised in waters adjacent to the World Heritage Area in Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania.
The demand comes as federal and state government workshops are held in Hobart this week to decide on urgent action to prevent the extinction of the Maugean Skate – a rare animal related to sharks and dating back to the time of dinosaurs.
Despite scientific evidence that industrial fish farms in Macquarie Harbour are having a major impact on the waterway’s health and skate numbers, all three salmon farming companies operating in the harbour are certified as “environmentally responsible” by BAP or GlobalG.A.P.
Signatories from 17 countries have sent open letters to both schemes demanding withdrawal of certification, condemning the misleading of unsuspecting shoppers, and calling for an end to greenwashing the extinction of the prehistoric Skate.
The signatories include marine, shark conservation, animal welfare, and community groups, as well as independent scientists, a public policy think tank, and award-winning authors.
Found only in Macquarie Harbour, the endangered Maugean Skate is one of the listed natural values of the World Heritage Area.
Scientists from the University of Tasmania’s Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies renewed their alarm recently after reporting a dramatic collapse in Maugean skate numbers with almost half disappearing in less than seven years.
The scientists attribute the Maugean Skate’s decline to the degraded environmental conditions in the Harbour, particularly dissolved oxygen levels, and explicitly named fish farms as one of the main causes of low dissolved oxygen levels in Macquarie Harbour.
“These certifications must not shirk their responsibility. They cannot palm this off to the auditors or wait until the companies’ next audit to address this dire situation. Macquarie Harbour fish farm certifications should be immediately revoked, or they will be the first certification schemes in the world to certify an extinction of a species.” – Alistair Allan, Bob Brown Foundation
“Major supermarkets rely on these certifications to sell farmed salmon and ocean trout with their “responsibly sourced” logos as part of their sustainable seafood policies. But there is nothing responsible about driving one of the rarest skate species in the world to extinction.” – Kelly Roebuck, SeaChoice
“This is certified ecocide. The Maugean Skate has one critical habitat, one chance at survival, the science is there, and the urgent action that is required to save this animal is simply not happening. Instead, we have greenwashing.” – Jessica Coughlan, Neighbours of Fish Farms
“Shoppers should be outraged to know that not only are they being misled by these certification claims, but they are unknowingly contributing to the demise of a species as old as the dinosaurs,” – Rebecca Howarth, Environment Tasmania
“The federal government is in Hobart again this week because the Tasmanian Government cannot be trusted to prevent the extinction of this species. Meanwhile, so-called ‘sustainability’ certification continues to greenwash the unsustainable practices of the salmon industry.” – Eloise Carr, Tasmanian Director, the Australia Institute
Photo: Jane Ruckert