Fish farmer comes clean

HUON Aquaculture says it has independent testing that shows the River Derwent is healthier downstream of its hatcheries compared with upstream.

The company, which was taken over by JBS Foods in November last year, said the results showed no negative impact on the river and in some cases a positive impact. Huon has a large hatchery at Meadowbank. Huon Aquaculture CEO Phil Wiese said that in March 2022, five creeks and rivers upstream and downstream from Huon’s land-based facilities were assessed under the Australian Rivers Assessment System (AusRivAS) by environmental consulting company, Kanunnah.

“The assessments include sampling the presence of macro-invertebrates, which is an effective way of evaluating the long-term health of the receiving water course,’’ Mr Wiese said. “The latest results showed that waterways downstream of Huon’s freshwater facilities are in very good health. “The rating for the Derwent River downstream of Huon’s Meadowbank hatchery in the Derwent Valley was B, compared with C upstream, meaning the water downstream scored higher than the water upstream.

“The 2021-22 summer has been one of the driest of the past century – dry conditions and low water flow will enhance any influence of nutrients from hatcheries, which makes these positive results particularly impressive.’’

Mr Wiese said that in 2019, Huon implemented a water monitoring program across all its freshwater sites including those in the Derwent Valley. “Last year’s results for the Meadowbank hatchery continue to show long-term downward trends for all concentrations including key parameters such as total ammonia, total nitrogen and total phosphorous – in fact in 2021, these recordings were at or near their lowest annual median results,’’ he said.

“In addition to AusRivAS assessments, all of Huon’s freshwater sites are subject to extensive regulation and monitoring, including both daily field and monthly laboratory testing of the nutrients, oxygen levels, pH and the conductivity of wastewater leaving the sites.’’

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