Twiggy’s Fishy Tasmanian Adventure

When you find yourself on the same side as a billionaire, the inclination is to retrace your steps to work out where you went wrong.

So it seems reasonable to ask what Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest is up to in his attempt to acquire Tasmania’s Huon Salmon. To do so, Forrest is trying to block the Brazilian meat producer JBS from a takeover, on the grounds that its human and animal rights and environmental record is…well, it’s a BRAZILIAN MEAT COMPANY. But that is going to require the assistance of the Foreign Investment Review Board, and Josh Frydenburg.

So an attack on non-commercial grounds doesn’t hurt. As part of that campaign, Forrest has been running a series of ads in the Mercury demanding reform in the salmon industry. It’s here that one reluctantly swings behind him, for his charges – that the industry befouls coastal waters, destroys native fisheries and is immensely cruel – are spot-on.

The state industry body has reacted with the usual bluster, but the truth is that salmon farming – in which up to 400,000 salmon are held in cages moored in-bay, for easy harvest – is destroying Tasmania’s coastal habitat, with expansion into bays on the north-west coast now looming.

The solution to that is mooring the cages in the ocean, and moving to onland farming. Far from crippling the industry, that would increase employment and return more money to the state.

But the major companies – Tassal and Huon – created by business brokers from small locally based companies two decades ago, are more interested in making huge profits, before the habitats and the industry collapse altogether – and they do not lack friends in parliament. If Twiggy can shift the industry, it may be all to the good, though I’m sure we’ll end up regretting that.