Tassal is the most significant aquaculture business in Australia by volume and market share with products found in fishmongers and supermarkets around the country. From 2012 to 2018, WWF worked with Tassal to offer expert advice on its sustainability strategy and guided the company on its commitments to standards of sustainable practice.
Under the guidance of WWF, Tassal became the first salmon company in Australia to achieve ASC certification for a farm site, and the first company globally to achieve this standard across its operations in 2014.
The environmental benefits of this work included less pollution, eliminating the use of copper-based antifoulant paints on Tassal’s sea-cage nets, reducing reliance on wild fish for feed by approximately 30%, and lowering the use of antibiotics by 95%.
As a strategy to improve consumer awareness of ASC, in 2016 and 2017 WWF-Australia conducted a trial involving the dual placement of the ASC and WWF logo on ASC-certified Tassal products. The trial, conducted over two three-month periods in 2016 and 2017, was designed to increase consumer awareness and preference for ASC-certified products through association with the WWF logo. Following the trial, WWF’s logo has not been used on any Tassal product since the trial was completed in 2017.
Standards like ASC provide a framework of standards under which seafood products can be audited and certified as meeting essential environmental requirements for responsible practices. Such standards are important tools, often providing the initial steps to drive improvements in wild-caught fisheries and aquaculture farming practices. However, these fully independent certification schemes also require continual monitoring and evaluation as new scientific evidence comes to light.
Projects supported by Tassal
The partnership had additional outcomes beyond Tassal’s ASC certification. Our partnership with Tassal also enabled WWF-Australia to support Traditional Owners in Queensland to monitor seagrass, a James Cook University study of snubfin dolphins along the Great Barrier Reef, and a project in Peru to improve sustainable fishery practices.
The bottom line
Aquaculture – the farming of sea or freshwater food, including animals and plants – will play an increasingly important role in feeding the world as our population and wealth grows. With good management and operational practices, aquaculture can be practiced sustainably to reduce its environmental impact.
Our future plan for Tasmania
WWF’s commitment to marine conservation and a sustainable salmon industry in Tasmania is unwavering. We are proud of our achievements made under the Tassal partnership. The remaining significant environmental challenges are of a clear industry-wide nature.
WWF will continue to advocate for transformation in the aquaculture industry. This will include working towards a stronger environmental regulatory framework, reforms to marine spatial planning, science-based biomass limits and enhanced biosecurity measures and environmental scrutiny, including through the transparency of data collection. We will also advocate for the development of new solutions and consideration of land-based opportunities, which may be appropriate in certain contexts, and work to ensure animal welfare remains paramount in all aspects of the industry. The Tasmanian Government must play the central role in addressing these issues.
We also remain committed to working with seafood suppliers to drive changes across their supply chains towards the goal of all seafood being sourced responsibly, and we commend companies that have undertaken such transformation. WWF-Australia believes that all stakeholders must work together to ensure that planning and management of the Tasmanian aquaculture industry operates in harmony with nature and with the many other users of Tasmania’s unique coast and marine environment. Learn more here.