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Margo at Martha Lavinia. Pic: Sean Davey –

Threats to Martha Lavinia Beach on King Island – one of Australia’s best beachbreaks

6 January 18

Salmon Farming company Tassal have plans for a salmon farm to be located near Martha Lavinia Beach, one of Australia’s best surf breaks. Swell wraps around both sides of King Island and meet at Martha Lavinia to form perfect waves, something that is unique to Australia if not the world.

The quality of these waves is highly valued by local and visiting surfers. Two-time world surfing champion Tom Carroll stated, “It’s the most beautiful beachbreak he’s ever seen” in a video post on Martha Lavinia Beach facebook page. 

With marine monitoring work scheduled to start this month, the surfing community have the following concerns,

Reduction in the strength of south swells and their ability to bend around the island in to Martha Lavinia on the north coast, potentially destroying this internationally significant wave.
The surrounding pristine beaches could be inundated with untreated fish faeces and excess fish feed pellets,
Damage to the iconic King Island brand which is dependent on a pristine environment, particularly with regard to its seafood, kelp harvesting and tourism industries.
Threat to ecosystems from untreated waste, decreased dissolved oxygen, increased nutrient loads, introduction of diseases and increased marine debris.
Risk to vulnerable and endangered species, (such as the southern right whale and fairy tern), in the surrounding area which includes the Lavinia State Reserve and Lavinia Ramsar Wetland.

An off-shore salmon farm could potentially contain one million fish in 22 or more sea pens and there are questions about the environmental sustainability of the Tasmanian Salmon Industry and the health of fillets sold to the public. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, the excreta from an average salmon farm is estimated to equal the sewage from a city of 7500 people.

Former professional surfer Brendan ‘Margo’ Margieson stated on the Martha Lavinia Beach facebook page, “This precious piece of coastline on our beloved King island should simply be kept as nature intended it to be. Please don't mess with this untouched area”.

Environment Tasmania state in their Cleaning Up Tasmanian Salmon document, “There is consensus in scientific literature: intensive fish farming in open pens damages the marine environment….”

The surfing community demand that waters of King Island be excluded from the Tasmanian government’s salmon farming ‘grow zones’.

Coastal environmental group Surfrider Foundation Australia has added Martha Lavinia Beach to the top of its list of Endangered Waves and have a petition and a facebook page dedicated to saving Martha Lavinia Beach. Endangered Waves Campaign Director Craig Macintyre said, “It seems to me that all of the threats far outweigh any benefit of a salmon farm on King Island”.

Surfrider Foundation Australia National Chairperson Susie Crick stated, “Whilst I sympathise with the salmon eaters of the world who love to enjoy their salmon at a reasonable price, I ask you, should that price lead to the ruin of a great surf spot? From what I’ve read, salmon farming is a dirty process that may have detrimental effects on the King Island marine habitat.” 

Further Information

Surfrider Foundation Australia: Director & Endangered Waves Coordinator: Craig MacIntyre, Mob.  0434 587 756, e:
Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast Branch: Darren Noyes-Brown, M: 0411 552 447, e:
Spokesperson for the campaign on King Island: Charlie Stubbs, Mob. 0427 564 296, e:


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