$4.8 million oxygenation project to revitalize Tasmanian waters now underway

Editorial Staff

“At a minimum, we aim to offset the total oxygen drawdown of our own salmon aquaculture activities in the Harbour.”

Scientists have reported the succesful start of trials to increase oxygen levels in Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania.

This initiative, in collaboration with the Australian federal government, is aimed at saving the endangered Maugean skate and marks a significant effort in environmental conservation within the aquaculture sector.

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The trial, co-funded by industry body Salmon Tasmania and the Commonwealth through the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), employs a “nano bubble” system.

The innovative approach involves using a diesel-powered generator on a barge, dubbed ‘The Wombat’, to oxygenate low-oxygen water and pump it back into the harbour at specific depths.

Following a successful fit out, the research team and salmon companies have moored the oxygenation barge in place, according to an update from Salmon Tasmania posted on LinkedIn.

Dr Jeff Ross, Associate Professor, at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) said “installation of the scientific monitoring and sensor operations over the past two weeks have been very productive. We have a live sensor array and live deck and underwater cameras operating and despite some initial teething issues with pump operations, which we have now overcome, the oxygenation looked good on camera with no evidence of too much vertical movement of the plume or bubbles.

The provisional plan in which 500kg/day was pumped for 3 days has gone well, according to the scientist, and will now be increased to 720kg/day before pausing to process and digest the environmental and performance data.

Salmon Tasmania CEO, Luke Martin, said “We are the one industry that is showing leadership in responding to the threats to the skate amongst a myriad of inputs into the harbour and we are proud of the teams of scientists and operational crews who are leading the charge.

“Our objective is to test whether the MHOP could form part of a long-term strategy to improve the Macquarie Harbour environment for the skate, while responding to the challenge of warming waters and other climatic factors.

“At a minimum, we aim to offset the total oxygen drawdown of our own salmon aquaculture activities in the Harbour, and further reduce the impact of our operations on the environment.”

While initial trials will use diesel to run the equipment, 100% of diesel used will be offset through carbon initiatives and once proven, we will be seeking a long-term renewable energy source.


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