Wotif founder Graeme Wood is behind an anti-salmon farming ad depicting a fisherman defecating over the side of a boat

Photo: Facebook/Let’s Grow Tasmania’s Future

Wotif founder Graeme Wood has confirmed he is supporting an advertising campaign against plans for salmon farming on Tasmania’s east coast.

A social media and television campaign from Let’s Grow Tasmania’s Future (LGTF) depicts a fisherman defecating over the side of a boat, with the slogan: “Farming 800,000 salmon in Okehampton Bay is about the same as 10,000 people taking a dump in the bay every day”.

It comes after salmon farmer Tassal announced its plans to expand its farming operations into Okehampton Bay.

Wood’s admission has attracted criticism from the Tasmanian government which says his involvement indicates the group’s motives are politicised despite claiming to be “a non-politically-aligned group of Tasmanians”.

Wood is the founder of the travel and accommodation booking website Wotif which he sold in 2014 for an estimated $140 million.

He also is the owner of the former Gunn’s woodchip mill at Triabunna, near the proposed salmon farm. He has plans to turn it into a hotel, conference room, restaurant and unit complex.

The Tasmanian government condemnation follows Wood’s donation of $1.6 million to the Greens in 2011 — the biggest political donation in Australian history.

“You will be aware that I have publicly stated my opposition to the Okehampton Bay proposal because of its undoubted negative impact on tourism jobs and development on the east coast,” Wood told the ABC.

“I am one of many supporting this campaign.”

Here’s the ad driving the campaign.

So far 93 emails have been sent to the Tasmanian premier through a petition set up on the LGTF website.

In Tassal’s submission to the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel regarding marine farming at Okehampton Bay in September 2016, the company outlined the environmental science supporting the proposed farm, as well as collaborative partnerships with the CSIRO and IMAS supporting their work.

“Tassal considers the legislative framework and processes for regulating marine farming in Tasmania is one that provides security and certainty for industry, input and consultation with community and stakeholder groups, and the environmental protection required to maintain the integrity of the State’s marine ecosystems,” wrote Mark Ryan, CEO of Tassal.

A spokesperson for Tassal told Business Insider, “The advertisement is nonsensical and the figures used are not accurate.

“It is not correct to compare fish waste with human sewage.

“The main reason for legitimate concern with human sewage is the spread of human disease and contaminants. This is not a factor with fish waste. In fact, fish convert food much more efficiently than humans and the composition and nitrogen levels are different making a simple ‘poop’ comparison impossible.

“Further, in the context of the ocean, fish waste equals nutrients. The ocean is where fish waste should be (for the benefit of the ecosystem) and must be. This is how nature re-circulates nutrients and there is nothing unnatural about the way farmed salmon contribute to this process.”

The company’s share price is at $4.15 as of December 30, 2016.

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