You’ll find it in your supermarket fridge, on sushi trains, and in fish shops all over Australia. Salmon is Australia’s favourite fresh seafood and we consume tens of thousands of tonnes of it a year.
This fish is not caught in the wild, it’s grown and farmed in the waters around Tasmania and is a booming industry.
“Our eggs here are just starting to hatch...we have about 19,000 of these in every tray.” - Company spokesperson
But there’s a lot consumers don’t know about the making of farmed salmon.
“If a consumer were to see a salmon fillet that was a pale grey or a white, chances are they wouldn’t buy it.” - Lawyer
Producing salmon is big business and the industry is reaping big profits with plans to turn it into a billion dollar industry within 15 years.
“I would say that salmon farming is clean and green though it’s not a term that I’d like to use. I would say that it’s a responsibly farmed product and I think we do it in an environmentally responsible way.” - Company spokesperson
Reputation is important and industry players promote their businesses as being open and transparent.
“I grew up just here in this area, I’ve spent my entire life in these waterways and I can’t help but personalise it when people say that we’re damaging this environment here.” - Company CEO
But those assurances are being put to the test with controversial plans by the biggest salmon company, Tassal, to expand into a new area, causing strong divisions in the community.
“Really divided. For jobs. And for what fish farms do. And you know, they’re a mess, they’re a dead set mess.” - Resident
“We’re getting a world class industry...Why wouldn’t you want it?” - Local business owner
Those community divisions have brought attention and our unwelcome scrutiny.
“Four Corners doesn’t come down unless the community is concerned, I get that...I would be happier if we just slid under your radar and you hadn’t been here, but you’re here.” - Company CEO
Big Fish, a groundbreaking investigation by Caro Meldrum-Hanna and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 31st October at 8.30pm on ABC & iview. It is replayed on Tuesday 1st November at 10.00am and Wednesday 2nd at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm AEDT, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.