Martha Lavina's - King Island

Surfrider Foundation Australia is actively protesting against a possible Salmon Farm that will negatively impact the quality of the Martha Lavinia surf break on King Island.

Martha Lavinia is a world class beach break on King Island in Bass Strait. Perfect A-frame waves are formed by swell wrapping around both sides of the island and meeting up again on the north coast over Marthas pristine white sand banks. This wave park has been voted one of the top 10 surf breaks in Australia and is frequented by pro surfers when in the region for the Bells Easter contest.

Kelly Slater has surfed here a few times as has Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam and Derek Hynd is also a big fan.Tassal has been granted a permit to research the possibility of establishing a salmon farm immediately east of Marthas. The research area is adjacent to the Lavinia State Reserve and Lavinia Ramsar Wetland and a fish farm here (potentially 1 million fish in 22 pens) would pose threats including the following;

  • Impacts on the quality of the surfing waves due to structures within the farm impeding the strength and height of the swell as it travel north along the east coast, the way the swell refracts around the island and the potential for the shape of the sand banks to be affected.
  • King Island’s economy is reliant on a pristine environment particularly for it’s seafood, kelp harvesting, dairy & beef industries and tourism. The island has built up a reputation for it’s clean green image and produce from King Island is held in high regard. A salmon farm here would damage that iconic King Island brand.
  • Potential for the public to lose recreational access to coastal areas on the east side of the island. Tassal haven’t provided any information about any necessary land based infrastructure.
  • Pollution in the form of untreated waste (fish faeces) on the seabed which could wash up on the beaches. There are also risks to ecosystems, natural fisheries and kelp habitat due to waste and excess feed reducing the dissolved oxygen level in the water.
  • Disease and parasites from the salmon farm being introduced into surrounding waters,
  • Acidity in the water may increase due to excess fish feed falling to the sea bed. A high proportion of wild caught feed is used in the fish meal that feed the salmon, and for 1 kg of fish produced, just less than 2 kg of fish meal may be required.
  • Parts of the fish pen infrastructure, rope, pipe and nets washing up on the shore as marine debris and being mistaken for food by marine animals and seabird.
  • Debris from cleaning of the pens polluting surrounding waters.
  • Seals may be attracted to the smorgasbord of fish which in turn could increase shark numbers,
  • Loss of amenity for surfers and users of the beaches and adjacent coastal reserve. People need wild spaces to be able to connect with nature and this area is about as wild as it gets.
  • Risk to endangered species like the hooded plover and other beach nesting seabirds such as the red capped plover, fairy tern, little tern and pied oyster catchers. Hooded plover nests are a shallow depression in the sand above the high tide mark in the sand. They are threatened by predatory gulls, dogs, feral cats, vehicles and beach walkers and they don’t need additional threats such as those posed by salmon farms The coastal strip provides seasonal habitat for the Orange Bellied Parrot which is critically endangered.
  • There are also threats to the little penguins, aquatic invertebrates and other species that call this beach home.
  • Odour

    According to Tassal, the benefit to King Island would be some jobs, perhaps improved freight logistics and lower freight costs.
    We don't believe taht justifies all of the above mentioned threats. There is a track record of environmental issues with salmon farms in Tasmania. (Macquarie Harbour, Port Huon, Okehampton Bay, refer Four Corners episode 'Big Fish" Oct 2016) and it appears that the state government facilitates expansion of this industry despite strong community opposition in the name of jobs, growth and the economy.
    It appears that the salmon farming industry is permitted to to keep expanding regardless of past environmental practices and community opposition. We need to be loud and strong about this from the outset.

    What can you do right now to help save this wave:
  • Share our social media posts with friends.
  • Let the Tasmanian Government know that you don’t want this to proceed (Hon Jeremy Rockliff, Minister for Primary Industries – email: and Hon Elise Archer, Minister for Environment and Parks – email: and in the Federal Parliament to the Member for Braddon, Justine Keay – email: Get in touch with the Tasmanian Labour politicians too, they are in opposition at the moment and there is a state election in March 2018. 
  • Sign the petition at…/keep-king-island-fish-farm-free 
  • Join the King Island local’s call to boycott all farmed salmon products from Tasmania (Tassal, Huon Aquaculture and Petuna, these are the 3 companies who could farm next to Martha’s) but even more importantly "broadcast" that you are joining the boycott. This could impact upon Tassal because 90% of their market is Australia and their shareholders are becoming nervous about the negative publicity. In March this year Australian Ethical, a large superannuation fund sold their big parcel of shares because of Tassal’s environmental record.
    • Join the facebook page ‘Surfers Against Inshore Fish Farms – SAIFF’


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