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Government Investigates, Approves Seal Cruelty for Salmon Giant

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Tags: Fish Farms, Tassal, Seals, Native Wildlife

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson

Right to Information documents and video footage detail the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment's 2016 investigation into breaches of the Animal Welfare Act by salmon giant, Tassal. This investigation was taking place within DPIPWE while the same department was approving an almost identical practice.

The incident in question involved Tassal employees trapping more than a dozen Australian fur seals in an empty salmon pen for multiple days. When DPIPWE wildlife officers attended to free the imprisoned seals, they commented the animals looked visibly exhausted. 

On the one hand, a government department is investigating and accumulating evidence of animal cruelty against protected native wildlife, and on the other it is handing the same company a permit to conduct these activities. 

Anyone who watches the video taken by DPIPWE officers can see the seals were weak and distressed. Fur seals are land-based sea mammals, usually with huge bulk, and they do not swim without a rest - just like humans, they can drown. 

It is unclear from the RTI what happened to the investigation into alleged animal welfare abuses by Tassal - why was it halted? The bigger question is, why was the government was signing off on the very seal mismanagement practice wildlife officers were alleging was illegal. 

The Liberals in government have kowtowed to the salmon industry at every turn - including in the mismanagement of seals. They signed off on salmon companies trapping seals, transporting them from the South to the North West, shooting them with bean bag bullets, and lobbing explosives at them. 

Since 2016, it is hard to see that anything has changed. Under Peter Gutwein, the war on wildlife continues.