Media Release Fisheries

Red Rating for Tasmanian Farmed Atlantic Salmon: Industry Pushing Environment Too Far, Too Fast

October 17, 2018

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) today announced further updates to Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide, an independent consumer guide to choosing seafood wisely.

Following a comprehensive scientific assessment of the ecological impact of Tasmanian salmon farms, Atlantic Salmon has been downgraded from an Amber, ‘Think Twice’ rating to a Red, ‘Say-No’.

Adrian Meder, Sustainable Seafood Program Manager at the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) said: “If done sustainably, fish-farming can provide an important source of seafood for Australians. It is unfortunate that the scientific evidence has led to a sustainability downgrade of Atlantic Salmon in the latest review of the Guide, particularly as the salmon farming industry was heading in the right direction until recent years.

“But in the past three years fish farming has had serious impacts on sensitive marine habitats and threatened species, particularly in Tasmania’s Macquarie Harbour. The salmon farming industry bears significant responsibility for the environmental impacts in the Harbour, and needs to clean up its act.

“Fish farming has reached such intensity in Macquarie Harbour that we’ve had consecutive summers of serious environmental impacts, including several massive fish kills. There have been dangerously low oxygen levels in deeper harbour waters, over a million fish have been lost due to asphyxiation and disease, and ‘dead zones’ have formed on the seafloor. This is a serious failure in management.

“If there is an aquaculture equivalent to overfishing, it’s growing many more fish than the local environment can support so you end up killing them.

“The salmon farms are operating right next to a wilderness World Heritage Area, where farming should be managed to protect the values of the area. But dead zones were found even within this protected World Heritage region.

“It’s incumbent on the Tasmanian Government to ensure the fish farming industry does not harm the environment if it is to have a sustainable future in the state.

“Until we can be confident that management arrangements are in place that protect the marine environment surrounding the fish farms, Tasmanian farmed Atlantic Salmon has been ranked red, ‘Say No’.”

The salmon farming companies have expansion plans in place to dramatically increase salmon farming production.

“With industry looking to rapidly expand into new areas around Tasmania, it is difficult to be confident that the mistakes of Macquarie Harbour will not be repeated,” said Meder.

“The environment has been pushed too far, too fast, and community confidence in the ability of industry to be careful stewards of our marine environment has been shaken as a result.

“We know the salmon farming industry has the capabilities to farm fish in a sustainable way, and to learn from the mistakes that have led to environmental issues in Macquarie Harbour. We call on the industry to listen to the concerns of the Australian public and to ensure future farming operations are done in a more sustainable way,” said Meder.

Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide is the nation’s most trusted source of information for Australians wanting to ensure the seafood they choose is sustainable.

To arrange interviews with Adrian Meder, contact AMCS Communications Manager Ingrid Neilson, 0421 972 731.


  1. See updated assessment for farmed Atlantic Salmon here.
  2. Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide was first published by the Australian Marine Conservation Society in 2004, and is available online and as a free app. It is produced in response to public demand for independent, credible and scientifically based information on the sustainability of seafood available for sale in Australia. The Guide covers farmed and wild caught seafood from Australia as well as imported product.
  3. A red, Say No rating in Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide recommends the public chooses more sustainable alternatives until such time as the salmon farming industry addresses environmental issues.
  4. For an understanding of the process used to assess fisheries to produce the Guide, see here.