Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe: The Disgrace of the Tasmanian Salmon Farming Big Guns- Tassal!

4 Corners Monday 31st October 2016 – Big Fish 

On last nights 4 Corners, we were presented with an investigation into the big wigs of salmon farming in Tasmania, and what was revealed is everything that is wrong with big corporations, not just here but worldwide. The lack of accountability, and the culture of denial for these companies is no longer something that can be hidden in plain sight.
To quote from my Facebook post just an hour after watching this  gobsmacking investigation where a serious  issue is treated like a game by Tassal –  “Lies, no transparency, lies, huge profits, lies, environmental vandalism to the once pristine waters around Tassie, lies, setting up “plants” for the 4 Corners interview, lies, ruining other businesses through their practices, lies, over-populating salmon farms, lies, denial of everything, and lies. Did I mention lies? And as to the WWF – just like the Heart Tick, it’s all up for sale under the guise of “donations” – provided the WWF can see fit to bestow its logo upon you…or as long as you can afford it. Corporate corruption is just par for the course these days, with government and its agencies seemingly turning a blind eye! Thank heaven for concerned citizens, whistleblowers, and those who are so fed up with it all that they just give the big FUCK YOU to them!

Oh..and in case you didn’t know, your lovely pink farmed salmon is coloured chemically through the fish food…they even get to choose the shade of pink! 

I am so glad I hate salmon, so not helping towards the profits of these unethical, immoral corporations. What an eye-opener…and unfortunately, none of it a shock! Let’s hope the pot has had a good stirring!”

Tassal are currently in the process of gaining permision to expand their salmon farming in bays along the Tasmanian shoreline. The environmental impact of what will become over-farming is dividing the community, but as always local government, state govrrnment and related agencies appear to be ignoring impact reports, and personal attempted interventions from those both experienced in the industry, and in several cases those impacted on a oersonal level by the current aggressive actions by Tassal.

The amount of fish excrement, and residue from feeding pellets, has to have a detrimental effect on what is currently a pristine environment, sitting on a knife edge. It doesn’t take a lot of common sense to see that things could – and have been – be tipped over the edge. That 4 Corners came to town obvioysly wasn’t a welcome intrusion “Four Corners doesn’t come down unless the community is concerned, I get that… I would be happier if we just slid under your radar and you hadn’t been here, but you’re here.” Company CEO. Obviously some Tassal employees are in the job just fot the pay – and not company loyalty – as several leaked documents from Tassal showed an attempt at subterfuge as far as the investigative team were concerned. Not only was a 50-page how-to-handle-Four-Corners manual produced by them, but most tellingly was a list of local big wigs who were “encouraged” to offer their support of Tassal in a contrived meeting that was rigged in their favour. One has to wonder just what inducements were offered by Tassal to gain their endorsement!

Even worse was a mussel farming small business that had been put out of business by Tassal’s intensive farming methods. A deadly sludge produced by cleaning methods on the salmon farms had coated and killed the mussels. Not only did the farm go broke, but a marriage was destroyed. Tassal, obviously not afraid to take advantage of a situation, offered to buy out the mussel farm leases – but with caveats attached. Most notable was the requirement to silence on the matter, that it was never to be spoken about, nor were they to denigrate Tassal. The poor ex-owner of the mussel farm was sick of carrying the burden around, and broke the caveat by speaking out against them. We need more people like this in the world! 

But perhaps the most disappointing – though not really coming as a shock – was the attitude and lack of ethics of WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Australia. We have known for some time now that organisations like this – and the Heart Tick is another – get funding from selling their logo to put on products distributed by corporations like Tassal – with no impunity! This organisation is supposedly about protecting the environment, and the wildlife within the environs. However, it would appear that money is more important than ethics, despite knowing that their logo on a product is, from the publics point of view, a reason to select that product for purchase. What a savage deception! The organisations we turn to to provide protection in the environment against the violations of big business (who only care about shareholders and profits) is disillusioning! They are really no better than those offering “donations” to procure an endorsement that is, as it turns out, just a joke. WWF Australia did a total fail with their attempts to validate why Tassal were allowed to use their logo!

The sad thing is that once again, big business is bulldozing its way through the process, offering the community much needed jobs and money…but at what cost! Often, as we know, the end does not justify the means. Tassal are, like so many corporations now, using language and trends to portray their businesses in a positive light. They tout their transparency (at the opaque end of the scale) and their environmental “sustainability” and “best practice” like badges of honour, meanwhile hiding behind the semantics, and self-reporting (all in-house) to subvert the outcome to something that is less than desirable, or accountable  Producing salmon is big business and the industry is reaping big profits with plans to turn it into a billion dollar industry within 15 years. “”I would say that salmon farming is clean and green though it’s not a term that I’d like to use. I would say that it’s a responsibly farmed product and I think we do it in an environmentally responsible way.” Company spokesperson”.

Thankfully, I do not like salmon, so feel I can assume the high moral ground…don’t take that seriously, please! However, finding out what went into the feeding pellets…some ingredients even unknown by the employee intervieed – would positively turn your stomach. I encountered a similar situation with dogs kibble several years ago, and I now read ingredients listings, and pay more for quality kibble. That there is a chemical colouring agent included in the feed should be of concern to everyone. “If a consumer were to see a salmon fillet that was a pale grey or a white, chances are they wouldn’t buy it.” Lawyer!

There are those who care – members of the local community, environmentalists, ecologists, whistleblowers, and those whose livlihoods have been destroyed by the bullying tactics of big business like Tassal. While empty-mouthing platitudes about “the industry pulling  together”, are really just interested in their own profits, and giving shareholders a dividend. It is a sad state of affairs.

Tim Alderman (C) 2016

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