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ASC Condemns Macquarie Harbour Salmon Farming Practices

19 May 2017

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens' Marine Environment spokesperson

Tassal has breached 19 Aquaculture Stewardship Council standards in Macquarie Harbour. Dissolved oxygen levels are so low life that calls the harbour home is suffocating.

ASC has identified four ‘major’ breaches, including a failure to comply with state and federal laws. A single major breach, if not remedied, results in a loss of ASC accreditation.

Other breaches include a failure to meet minimum fish welfare conditions, a failure to present mortality reports to auditors and having no effective mechanism to handle community complaints. This is an indictment on the government, who have cheered the industry on, imposing no real regulations.

The ASC have found that Tassal is not only in breach of regulations, but is continuing to damage Macquarie Harbour, including the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.  

Minister Rockliff’s ‘world’s best practice’ regulation of the fish farming industry is a farce, as the peak global audit body points out. 

Tasmanians deserve to know how Tassal can risk losing their sustainability certification for breaking State and Federal laws, but the government won’t take action for continuous breaches. The industry is almost unchecked under the Hodgman Government.

Minister Rockliff repeatedly refers to his tough regulations, including fines, in an attempt to pretend the government is protecting Tasmania’s marine environment.  His so-called big fines don’t even apply to Macquarie Harbour.

The government’s fish farm fines are restricted to breaching a nitrogen cap, where a company puts too much feed in the water.  Macquarie Harbour, however, doesn’t have a nitrogen cap, it has a biomass cap.  Tassal have already indicated it will breach this by 4,000 tonnes, with no consequence expected.

It’s past time the Liberal Government and Labor Opposition stand up for the long-term sustainability of the industry and the marine environment that supports it.