Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Salmon Farms Thrive in Tasmania

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Salmon Farms Thrive in Tasmania

Article excerpt

IT'S time to throw the salmon on the barbie.

The first fish of the season are now heading to market in Sydney and Melbourne and within the next month salmon farmers will begin shipping the delicacy to Japan, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and the West Coast of the United States.

From September to March diners will feast on Atlantic Salmon, one of the newest crops in Tasmania. In only its third commercial season, the industry has gone from the experimental stage to annual production of 3,000 tons of salmon worth $35 million to $40 million (Australian; US$27 million to $31 million).

"The key is the clean environment," says Phil Cooper, marketing manager for Tassal Limited, which produces 52 percent of the salmon and has sales of $25 million.

The baby fish, called smolt, are grown in the clean fresh waters of Tasmania. They are then moved into brackish water and eventually into the crystal clear water of the Southern Ocean. There are no pollutants in the water and the temperature (about 15 degrees C) is optimal to keep the fish stress-free. "Stress makes them more open to disease," says Julian Amos, executive officer of the Salmon Growers Association.

Although no one knows the reason why, Tasmanian salmon mature a year earlier than salmon grown in the Northern hemisphere. And Mr. Cooper claims the Tasmanian salmon taste better as well. As proof, he points out the Japanese - the largest market for salmon - are willing to pay an extra $2 per kilo for the Tasmanian salmon. Tassal will ship 1,000 tons of salmon to Japan this year.

In fact, a Japanese company, Kokan Mining Company, owns one of the salmon farmers, Aquatas Proprietary Limited, which ships about 50 percent of its 680 tons of production to Japan.

The Tasmanian salmon industry got its start in the early 1980s, when the Tasmania Fisheries Development Authority purchased some salmon that originated in Nova Scotia to see if they would thrive in Tasmanian waters. …

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