Net cleaning operations caused salmon escape, says Huon Aquaculture

But cause of the fire at a pen in the Lower Channel remains “inconclusive”.

In a statement, Tasmanian salmon farmer Huon Aquaculture writes that it has got to the bottom of the incident which resulted in a 130,000 salmon escape.

At one point Huon Aquaculture co-founder Frances Bender said that she was considering calling police to investigate the hole in the “bullet-proof vest material”.

However, following extensive internal investigations including multiple discussions with on-water crew, analysis of vessel movements and assessment of works plans, it concluded that the recent net tear at one of its pens in Storm Bay was most likely caused during net cleaning operations.

The initial uncertainty around the cause was due to inconsistent GPS data about the location of vessels near the lease, it said.

“It is always regrettable when fish are lost; every farmer wants to protect their livestock as well as the environment in which they farm. We are reassured this incident has a valid explanation,” wrote the salmon farmer.

“At the time of the incident, we were unclear as to the cause as information to hand did not readily identify a valid operational cause. Net cleaning is a complex task, with crew working with multiple pieces of equipment including generators, electrical and mechanical pressure pump systems, high and low voltage motors and associated parts,” it added.

The company has now implemented a range of actions to strengthen its “operational processes including the installation of ROV cameras on every net cleaning vessel and additional equipment training”.

The cause of the fire at a pen in the Lower Channel, which resulted in a 52,000 salmon escape “remains inconclusive”, so further investigations are underway.