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Salmon Industry’s Seal Cruelty Revealed in RTI Documents

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Friday, 18 June 2021

Tags: Seals, Fish Farms, Marine Environment, Animal Welfare

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson

The gross treatment of wild seals, and apparently normalised culture of cruel and polluting practices, by the salmon industry have been laid bare in documents released under Right to Information by DPIPWE. 

The Liberal Government’s failure to enforce animal welfare standards for native wildlife, and prevent extensive plastic and toxic pollution of the marine environment, is shocking and far from the ‘clean green salmon’ brand it broadcasts.

Australian fur seals, ordinarily a protected species, have been subjected to horrible practices by salmon companies.

RTI documents from January 2018 to January 2020 reveal seals have been systematically attacked with some 4,000 Kevlar-cased lead shot, euphemistically called ‘bean bags’ by the industry. There’s nothing soft or humane about what DPIPWE staff confirm are non-biodegradable, toxic and, too often, lethal.

The documents show shocking pictures of wounded and blinded seals, along with autopsies of seals who died through drowning from blunt trauma, or blast injuries within fish farm leases. 

It’s clear many animals have been shot in the face and have died, been blinded or injured, and euthanised. These are native animals, supposedly protected under Tasmanian law. 

The photos of dead and injured seals in these documents are difficult to look at.

There are serious questions about why possible breaches of the Animal Welfare Act 1993 haven’t been pursued. Wildlife officers repeatedly raised potential animal cruelty issues occurring “on a significant scale”. No enforcement action has been taken – why? 

Minister Barnett is responsible for both the salmon industry and the Animal Welfare Act 1993. He must respond immediately.

Minister Barnett should halt the use of seal deterrents until an investigation of animal welfare impacts is conducted. The Liberals can’t keep ignoring this cruelty.