This page updated on 17 Sep 2003

FIGHTS BACK to protect clean salmon industry

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When, in July 1999, the Australian Government backed away from its 24-year ban on uncooked salmon imports, a State quarantine ban was soon applied by the Government of Tasmania with unanimous support of its Parliament. This brought Australia into contravention of the World Trade Organisation's ruling. Tasmania has conducted its own Import Risk Analysis on the issue (available below).

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There have been two WTO Dispute Settlement Panel decisions and several resultant appeals since 1998 on the issue of Australia's attitude to salmon imports. ( See Chronology of preceding events .) The most recent appeals were initiated by Canada, resulting in a ruling announced in July 1999, overturning the 24-year ban on fresh salmon imports. Australia then agreed to consider measures short of a total ban, resulting in proposals for heading, gilling, gutting and packaging which would in theory remove the parts of the fish most likely to spread disease. In respect to salmon from New Zealand, there would not even be a requirement to remove the head and gills. [Australia's revised Import Risk Analysis was produced to an "accelerated timetable" (of 3 months) to address WTO demands. Its general conclusions appear in Chapter 9 of the IRA.]. [See an account of some salmonid diseases ]

This was seen as a big concession. However, it was not enough for the WTO. The second WTO panel decision, released in February 2000, rejected these requirements as too restrictive for exporters.  It also decided that the Tasmanian ban was unjustified since it lacked a formal scientific basis. (Tasmania released its import risk analysis justifying the ban on Feb 23, soon after public release of the second panel's report.). The following (Jan 2000) letter from Environment Minister David Llewellyn states Tasmania's position and indicates that the Australian Government had not formally reacted to the Animal Health Amendment Bill before the WTO Dispute Settlement Panel had concluded its December sitting.

11 January, 2000

Dear Mr Jenkins

Thank you for your letter of 20 December 1999 concerning amendments to Tasmania's Animal Health Act and any reaction by the Australian Government.

The December 1999 amendments to the Animal Health Act passed through both Houses of the Tasmanian Parliament with unanimous support and without amendment. The amendments received Royal Assent on 15 December 1999 and commenced on that day. The second reading speech and debates on the Animal Health Amendment Bill are available on the Tasmanian Government's web-site.

Tasmanian Government officials met with senior officers of the Commonwealth Government in November 1999 to advise Tasmania's position on fish quarantine in preparation for the World Trade Organisation dispute settlement meetings in Geneva in December 1999. We have not received any reaction so far from the Commonwealth Government to Tasmania's amended Animal Health Act.

Tasmania is concerned that the Commonwealth unilaterally determines a level of quarantine protection "appropriate for Australia" without regard to the Sovereignty of States and Territories in such matters. Also, in a country as large and diverse as Australia, the suitability of a "one size fits all" set of quarantine measures is highly questionable given that the Sanitary [and] Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement requires that countries adopt least trade restrictive measures. The need for different quarantine measures in different parts of Australia is quite apparent when considering precautions necessary to prevent establishment of salmonid diseases in Australia. The SPS Agreement provides specifically for countries to recognise and take account of different circumstances in parts of both an exporting and importing country when considering measures necessary to prevent spread of disease,

Thank you for your interest in this matter.

Yours sincerely

David Llewellyn MHA
Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment

NEWS ITEMS (Note: some media URLs may expire after 3-4 weeks)
16 Sep 03 Imported Raw Salmon Seized (Tas Govt media release)
4 Sep 03 Seizure Of Infected Salmon Imports (Tas Govt media release)
15 Mar 02 'Have a Salmon Good Friday' (National Anglers Lobby media release)
11 Mar 02 Ruling awaited on whether gene-altered salmon is safe (Toronto Star)
14 Feb 01 Setback for GM Fish (BBC News)
6 Jun 00 Senate Salmon Report (Tas Govt media release)
17 May 00 Recreational Angling Group pleased with Canada decision (Media release)
17 May 00 Australia Negotiates Settlement with Canada on Salmon (Media release)
16 May 00 Canada, Australia reach agreement on salmon (Windsor Star, Canada)
15 May 00 War declared on WTO (WA Citizens' Voice)
10 May 00 Senate Committee Report further delayed to 8 June (Senate Hansard)
19 Apr 00 Quarantine service's GMO controversy (ABC AM radio)
14 Apr 00 Zoning [requested] for Tasmania (Tas Govt media release)
13 Apr 00 Irish concerns about infectious anaemia, sea lice (Irish Times)
12 Apr 00 Senate Committee report further delayed to 11 May (Senate Hansard)
12 Apr 00 Monster salmon scare for fish farmers (Guardian)
7 Apr 00 Labyrinthine processes of the WTO (Aust Fin Review)
6 Apr 00 NZ trout ban risks WTO action (Dominion)
6 Apr 00 Nutreco pays US$1bn for Norwegian salmon company (De Volkskrant, NL)
29 Mar 00 Green light for Aust salmon exports to NZ (Lloyds List DCN)
27 Mar 00 Trade ban threatened: Unions angered (Financial Post, Canada)
27 Mar 00 One way to stop salmon imports (Canberra Times, letters)
26 Mar 00 Fishy business in Tasmania (Canberra Times)
24 Mar 00 Call for Federal support (Tas media release)
24 Mar 00 ALP cold on salmon stand (AFR - unconfirmed FT search result)
23 Mar 00 WTO DSB Panel adopts salmon report (M2 com)
23 Mar 00 Call for (union) ban on handling Canadian products (ABC news)
23 Mar 00 Fear, reality on salmon (SMH editorial)
23 Mar 00 Premier rejects trade backlash (Age) precis
23 Mar 00 Canada's salmon egg ban "very fishy" (Mercury)
22 Mar 00 Recreational fishers urge boycott of Canadian salmon (ABC national news)
22 Mar 00 Anglers target hotels and restaurants (ABC Hobart news)
22 Mar 00 * Canberra braces for salmon blow (Age) [copy] [Canb Times version]
22 Mar 00 * Canadian comments welcomed (Tas media release)
22 Mar 00 Canada retreat in salmon war (Launceston Examiner)
22 Mar 00 * Llewellyn ready for court battle as Tassie extends ban (Hobart Mercury)
22 Mar 00 Farmers fear disease will kill off industry (The Australian)
21 Mar 00 * Salmon war looming after WTO decision (ABC 7.30 Report)
21 Mar 00 * Trade war threat after salmon decision (ABC World Today)
21 Mar 00 Ban supported by Food Industry Council of Tasmania (ABC News)
21 Mar 00 Canada says trade barriers are last resort (ABC News)
21 Mar 00 Canada fails to retaliate (Asia Pulse)
21 Mar 00 * Federal Govt considering legal action against Tasmania (ABC News)
21 Mar 00 Fish imports a dilemma for free trade (The Australian)
21 Mar 00 Tasmania accuses Federal Govt of cave-in (ABC AM)
18 Mar 00 * PM may be hooked by own line (Brian Toohey - AFR) copy
17 Mar 00 Canadian compo bid uproar (Hobart Mercury)
16 Mar 00 Salmon Action (Tas media release)
15 Mar 00 * WTO SPS Committee completes draft on 'consistency' (WTO release)
10 Mar 00 Australia must support Tasmania (StopMAI media release)
8 Mar 00 Suzuki criticises both WTO and salmon industry (Green Left Weekly)
6 Mar 00 Make Way for Frankenfish (Time Magazine)
1 Mar 00 B.C. fish farmers oppose transgenics (Canada Wire)
26 Feb 00 * Scales of Justice (Sydney Morning Herald)
26 Feb 00 New Zealand salmon research halted (Las Vegas Sun)
23 Feb Letter to Editors from Patricia Ranald (AFTINET) (unpublished)
23 Feb 00 * Tasmania produces scientific basis (Media release)
22 Feb 00 Salmon risk not acceptable (Editorial The Advocate, Burnie)
22 Feb 00 $150,000 for disease-free salmon hatchery (Tas Premier's media release)
21 Feb 00 Australia tries to isolate Canada salmon trade war (Reuters)
21 Feb 00 * Vaile discusses salmon with John Laws (Interview transcript)
21 Feb 00 * Aust Government considers next steps (Media release)
21 Feb 00 Lamb exporters face sanctions (Sydney Morning Herald)
21 Feb 00 Salmon Protection Measures (Tas Premier's media release)
20 Feb 00 Leaked Canadian report vindicates Tas ban (Citizens' Voice)
20 Feb 00 * Tasmania will nor back down on salmon (Tas Premier's media release)
18 Feb 00 WTO finds Australia salmon ban still violates rules (Reuters)
18 Feb 00 'Yes Minister' responses from bureaucrats (Senate Committee)
31 Jan 00 * WTO SPS Panel Report went to parties (PDF on web 18 Feb)
22 Nov 99 * UK expert discounts visual inspection (Senate Committee)
18 Nov 99 * Tasmania announces its quarantine legislation (Media release)
20 Oct 99 Tassie defies salmon policies (story in Launceston Examiner)
19 Oct 99 * Vaile attacks Tasmania on NZ salmon (Interview transcript)
19 Oct 99 * Truss's statement critical of Tasmania (Ag Dept Media release)
19 Sep 99 Frankenfish wiping out wild salmon (Mail on Sunday, UK)
11 Aug 99 * New Zealand Trade Minister comments (Interview transcript)
1 Aug 99 Salmon Growers' Battle (NineMSN small business)
30 Jul 99 Canada's decision to go to the WTO (ABC interviews Vaile)
29 Jul 99 Canadian Action on Salmon Unwarranted (Vaile release)
26 Jul 99 Salmon move a little fishy (Brian Toohey in West Australian)
19 Jul 99 Revised fish import policies announced (AQIS)
19 Jul 99 Chronology of preceding events (AQIS)

(* = Most useful)
Animal Health Amendment Act
Animal Health Regulations 1999
Animal Health Regulations 1996 *
Motion in support, 20 Oct 99*
Access at
Check 1999. Paste in the query New Zealand imported salmon Click OK, then click on the resultant document name.When the section has loaded, click on FIRST HIT in the menu at top. See also Hansard debate on the motion (below).
Tas Govt Gazette, 24 Nov 99 to be advised if available online
Import Risk Analysis
(Feb 00)
Available from
Media Release text at
HANSARD DEBATES 1999 (Tasmania) Follow instructions to access these Tasmanian House of Assembly Hansard documents. Essential: check 1999 on the search form.
Tues 21 Sep 99, QUESTION Access at
Check 1999. Paste in [after 'The query so far is'] 21 September 1999 AND Trade - Salmon Products Click OK, then click on the resultant document name.When the Hansard section has loaded, click on the last red pointer, after '1999' in the second line to bring up the Question.
Tues 5 Oct 99, Ministerial Statement * Access at
Check 1999. Paste in [after 'The query so far is'] 5 October 1999 AND Imported Salmon Products Click OK, then click on the resultant document name. The Ministerial Statement is at the head of the document. Some debate follows.
Wed 20 Oct 99, Motion of support for action Access at
Check 1999. Paste in [after 'The query so far is'] 20 October 1999 AND Salmon Industry Click OK, then click on the resultant document name.When the Hansard section has loaded, click on the last red pointer, after '1999' in the first line to bring up the commencement of the debate on the motion of Minister Llewellyn..
Tues 23 Nov 99, 2nd Reading of Animal Health Amendment Bill (No. 113) * Access at
Check 1999. Paste in [after 'The query so far is'] 23 November 1999 AND Animal Health Click OK, then click on the resultant document name.When the Hansard section has loaded, click on the last red pointer, after '1999' in the first line to bring up the Animal Health Amendment Bill.
Tues 30 Nov 99, Question Access at
Check 1999. Paste in [after 'The query so far is'] 30 November 1999 AND Imported fish processing equipment Click OK, then click on the resultant document name.When the Hansard section has loaded, click on the last red pointer, after '1999' in the second line to bring up the Question.
Assembly Sittings, 2000
HANSARD DEBATES 2000 (Tasmania) (Commencing 30 Mar - to be advised when posted)
SENATE INQUIRY [Cttee] Rural and Regional Affairs & Transport Committee [Hansard]
Interim Report 8/12/99
Hearing Transcript 24/9/99 (Canberra) *
Hearing Transcript 5/10/99 (Hobart) *
Hearing Transcript 11/11/99 (Canberra) *
Hearing Transcript 22/11/99 (Canberra) Mr D Bucke*
Hearing Transcript 8/02/00 (Canberra) AQIS (pp218-223),
Hearing Transcript 18/02/00 (Canberra) AQIS, A-G, DFAT*
Senate Estimates Committee* Go to Salmon select passages



Tasmanian Dept of Primary Industries, Water and Environment
Tasmanian Salmon Growers' home page
National Anglers' Lobby*
Institute of Freshwater Anglers (NSW) Senate Submission on Salmon Imports*
FACT (Tas) Fish Action pages
Australia supports WTO rules
DFAT list of new files Jul-Dec 99
EVAG Fisheries news and opinion
Salmonid Links and Publications
Pledge to protect wild salmon (US)
Tidepool (US) Salmon news and links
US Lacey Act Amendments
FAO Fisheries Department
Seafood safety and human health, fromUS National Sea Grant Office



from "Opportunities in Marine Biology and Aquaculture" (US Dept of Agriculture, 1995)

Nowhere in the biosphere is biological diversity greater than in the seas, and the extent of this diversity becomes increasingly evident as scientists investigate new environments. In the 1980s, for example, giant tube worms (Riftia) were recovered from areas adjacent to deep-ocean thermal vents, and novel mussels (Bathymodiolus) that farm methanotrophic bacteria on their gill tissue were discovered around methane seeps in the Gulf of Mexico. Most newly described species have been and will continue to be microorganisms, although it is clear that new marine plants and animals also await discovery.

Less than 1 percent of the extant bacteria -- marine and terrestrial -- have been isolated and described. The marine environment represents a particularly fertile source for new bacteria, as evidenced by the recent discovery of unusual "cold water" archaea 100-500 meters deep in the oceans. These archaea comprise a high percentage of the total bacterial ribosomal RNA present in seawater samples, yet they have not been isolated in pure culture and described.

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