A flotilla of at least 60 boats surrounded Huon Aquaculture’s fish pens in Norfolk Bay and called for a permanent ban on salmon farming in the area.
Protesters set sail on a variety of boats, from large fishing boats to individual sailboats.
Many boats carried banners calling for the final revocation of Huon Aquaculture’s license to farm fish in the bay.
But Deputy Prime Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the government strongly supports the industry and already has strict regulations in place.
“We have a plan for the salmon industry that we launched towards the end of last year that clearly indicates where salmon can be farmed and not farmed,” he said.
“It gives certainty to the industry. It gives certainty to the community.”
Huon Aquaculture has obtained permission to store diseased fish in the bay until the end of December.
He announced yesterday he was moving the fish a month earlier, saying recent tests were negative for pilchard orthomyxovirus, a disease that killed 1.3 million fish in Macquarie Harbor earlier this year .
“Will they be back next year?” said Debbie Dunn of the Tasman Peninsula Marine Protection Group.
“Or in a few months? Or next week? We do not know.
“We will do whatever it takes within the limits of the law. We will continue. We are not giving up.”
Organizers of today’s protest expected around 200 ships to participate.
Mr Duncan said he did not believe Huon Aquaculture’s plans for an early departure were responsible for the lower turnout.
“No, not at all. It’s bad weather,” he said.
“These are quite trying conditions so [we’re] a little disappointed but [it’s] a fantastic result. “
After circling the salmon pens, protesters headed to Primrose Sands for a press conference.