JBS-owned Huon Aquaculture has experienced a fish escape at its operations at its Zuidpool South lease.

On Sept. 2 as part of fish loading operations, crews identified a tear in the inner net of one pen resulting in "an inventory loss of less that 10 percent," Huon spokesperson Pene Snashall told IntraFish.

A report was made to the local government as per licence conditions.

The cause was due to aluminum poles from net infrastructure coming loose, said Snashall.

"It is always regrettable when fish are lost; every farmer wants to protect their livestock as well as the environment in which they farm," she said.

It is unclear at this stage how large the fish are or exactly how many escaped.

This is not the first time Huon has suffered such an incident.

In December 2020, when Huon was still a publicly listed company, the company discovered an escape of an estimated 120,000-130,000 half kilo fish.

It came quickly on the heels of a fire at the company's D'Entrecasteaux Channel farm which resulted in the escape of between 50,000 to 52,000 fish.

The two incidents were described by then Huon CEO Peter Bender at the time as "hugely concerning."

The latest escape comes at a bad time for the producer, following fast on the heels of a report from Australia's Department of Natural Resources and Environment that shows Huon is responsible for 20 of the 25 seal deaths reported by Tasmania's salmon industry to the state since January 2021.

The company said it used more explosives than its competitors because about two-thirds of its salmon is produced at offshore sites where seals are more prevalent, according to The Guardian.

The news site said the information disclosed shows Huon Aquaculture used 1,887 explosives in the three months to the end of June, a rate of more than 20 a day. The company has used more than 10,600 since January 2021.

Huon was acquired by Brazilian meat processing giant JBS in November last year after a long-running battle full of question marks and potential challengers.

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