Freshwater hatcheries (also known as freshwater fish farms) enable the salmon industry to breed and rear young salmon.
What is a hatchery?
A freshwater hatchery is a land-based aquaculture facility to breed, hatch and rear salmonids (salmon and trout). In Tasmania, most hatcheries produce smolt or juvenile salmon which are then transferred to marine fish farms for on-growing.
Historically, freshwater fish farms have relied on flow-through technology in earthen ponds and raceways, which many old hatcheries still use. Current best practice for new fish farms is for technologically sophisticated recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) that have the benefit of providing controlled growing conditions, improved environmental performance and reduced water use. Increasingly, the salmonid industry is moving to fully recirculating systems with the wastewater used to irrigate agricultural land.
There are 21 salmonid freshwater fish farms currently operating in Tasmania. Their purposes include the production of fish for marine grow-out, education, research and development, recreational fisheries and commercial markets.
Table: Salmonid freshwater hatcheries in Tasmania
|Grow-out for marine farms||14|
|Research and development||2|
Of the 21 salmonid freshwater fish farms:
- Seven operate RAS only.
- Eight operate with a combination of RAS and flow-through systems.
- Six operate with flow-through systems only.
How are salmon hatcheries managed?
A salmonid hatchery is required to have a freshwater fish farm licence to grow fish under the Inland Fisheries Act 1995.
Freshwater fish farm licences contain conditions relating to the species of fish permitted to be grown, the location and size of the farm, the source of supply of fish stock, and requirements for notification, disease management and the prevention of fish escapes from farms. The IFS is responsible for ensuring compliance with the conditions of a fish farm licence. Licence fees are based on the fish farm's maximum standing biomass, which is grouped into three categories:
- Category 1: Standing biomass of greater than 100 tonnes.
- Category 2: Standing biomass greater than 2 tonnes but less than or equal to 100 tonnes.
- Category 3: Standing biomass equal to or less than 2 tonnnes.
Finfish farms including salmonid hatcheries with a biomass greater than two tonnes are also required to have an environmental licence under the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA). The environmental licences contain conditions relating to environmental monitoring, noise control, production limits, therapeutant use, waste management, wastewater reuse, and rehabilitation following the cessation of activities. EPA Tasmania is responsible for administering and monitoring compliance with the conditions of an Environmental Licence. More information is available about EPA Tasmania's management of land-based finfish farms.
Any salmonid hatchery extracting water from a water resource for commercial purposes, including, but not limited to, utilising a flow through system, is required to have a Water Licence and allocation granted under the Water Management Act 1999
. Conditions are applied to water licences which may be tailored to manage risks or issues that are specific to a water resource.
Freshwater Fish Farm Management Plans
To ensure that each licenced fish farm meets high and consistent standards in relation to biosecurity and land and water usage, an applicant for a new fish farm licence, or a current fish farm licence holder on transfer, variation or renewal of their licence, must develop, provide for approval and subsequently implement a Fish Farm Management Plan (FFMP).
A FFMP details the policies and procedures a freshwater fish farm implements including, but not limited to:
- Operational biosecurity procedures regarding the source and transport of live fish; isolation of introduced brood stock and, or, eggs, fry and smolts; monitoring health status; disposal of dead fish; vector and predator control; and source and disposal of transport water
- Biosecurity incident and emergency procedures
- Equipment and vehicles
- Staff, contractors, and visitors
- Access to and movement in the fish farm
- Fish feed
- Quarantine and testing areas
- Prevention of escapes and incidental transfers
The salmonid industry sources freshwater for both the juvenile stage (salmonid hatcheries) and the marine stage (treating amoebic gill disease through freshwater bathing) of growing salmon and trout.
How is freshwater use managed?
The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment administers a range of legislation and policies that ensure sustainable management of Tasmania’s water resources which applies equally to the salmon industry’s use of water, the same as any other use, including the:
Surface or groundwater used for freshwater bathing may be accessed through arrangements which are regulated under the
Water Management Act 1999
. All water licences are publicly available on
The newly released
Rural Water Use Strategy
sets out continuous improvement of the management of our water resources, including for sustainable access to water and good water quality.