Written by Bexy McFly
What a generous government we have. 3.8 million clams have been granted to Tassal for production of a fish meal plant 4km north-east of Triabunna on the Tasman Highway, and there’s nothing fishy about that. Ok, there totally is. It reeks of fish carcass, as will the area surrounding the facility.
20,000 tonnes of fish by-product will be processed each year, which many of the salmon themselves are fuming about. Those ones will probably become smoked salmon back at Tassal, and the dregs will be used for high-value fish oil and protein-based products which will be distributed not only throughout Australia but internationally as well.
Justin O’Connor, the company’s head of engineering, said the site has been selected because of its sustainable and under-utilised water resources and good links to transportation. The company has also assured the locals that the facility will produce minimal noise and wastewater emissions, include best-practice environmental control measures (apart from all the fish slaughter, that is), and will produce minimal odour. But let’s be honest, Tassal are certainly quite accustomed to the stench of fish heads by now so it’s likely they don’t even notice it anymore.
Tassal has intentions of sourcing staff locally for the whopping 50 jobs it will create – 30 full-time jobs during construction and an additional 20 within the first two years of operation. The plant is expected to have capacity for all of the salmon waste from the entire state.
Tassal’s rival processor and former super trawler operator, Seafish Tasmania (who received a federal export grant for its fish oil venture two years ago), does not appear to be too worried about this arguably *shellfish* development, and have no current plans to sell its plant. “Seafish Tasmania is continuing to employ 25 staff at its processing plant at Triabunna,” Seafish announced in a released statement. They did not address whether or not they will be staying in business after the Tassal facility plant opens. This will surely depend on whether or not they all get along swimmingly.
Tassal have generously stated that Seafish employees will have the opportunity to work at their shiny new plant once it’s built. So will this really create more jobs or just shuffle around a few that already exist?
But much like Salmon, cash handouts can’t flow in forever.
Federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz, who was in Triabunna for the launch said, “It will be very difficult to justify these ongoing types of expenditure”.