The planned extension is at the bottom of the picture.

Huon ramping up capacity for larger post-smolts

£57.7m nursery expansion will enable Tazzy salmon farmer to make better use of marine site capacity


Tasmanian salmon farmer Huon is to spend A$110 million (£57.7m) to expand its land-based Whale Point nursery in Port Huon

The recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility will increase capacity at the plant, enabling Huon to produce more large post-smolts for its marine farms in Storm Bay.

For the past five years, Huon has had the ability to grow post-smolts of up to 1kg or more out at Whale Point, although most of the fish produced have been smaller than that at transfer. Stocking bigger fish in marine pens can reduce the time they spend in the sea before harvest to less than a year.

This allows for increased production capacity from existing leases, reduces the risk of mortality, and helps even out Huon’s harvest profile.

Work on the extension is due to start early next year, pending approvals, and the facility should be fully operational by 2027. Huon said 99% of water used in the plant will be recirculated, and the remaining 1% will be used for freshwater baths at marine sites.

An illustration of the proposed extension.

“By doing this, Huon reduces the need for freshwater supplies, minimising the requirement for the extraction of water resources from freshwater dams,” the company said on its website.

There are no sea lice for Tasmanian fish farmers to contend with, but they do have to control amoebic gill disease (AGD), which can be done with freshwater treatments.

Whale Point is on high ground, and its fish are gravity-fed directly into wellboats for transfer to farms through a 1 km pipe in a journey that takes eight minutes. No additional vessel movements will be required for the increased number of larger fish because Huon has spare capacity.

Vessels contracted by the company include the Sølvtrans wellboat Ronja Storm, which is one of the world’s largest capacity wellboats. Its wells have a volume of 7,000m³, and can hold 800 tonnes of fish.

It has an on-board desalination plant which can produce 700,000 litres of freshwater every hour for freshwater treatments.

Huon's David Mitchell with one of the fish grown at the Whale Point nursery in 2019. The extension will give Huon more capacity for such big smolts.