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Australian Fur Seals - Welfare

17 October 2018

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN.

your former minister oversaw an appalling regime of seal mismanagement, 
which has seen almost 9000 underwater explosions and at least 1200 seals 
being shot, injured and blinded with beanbag bullets this year alone. 
Animal welfare advocates, including the World Wildlife Fund, are deeply 
concerned. Given the minister was clearly conflicted in her 
administration of animal welfare, will you acknowledge the cruelty of this 
regime and commit to undertaking a review to ensure the welfare of 
protected Australian fur seals is not sacrificed on the altar of industry 
expansion, at which your Government worships?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. Again, I have to 
rebuff the implications about Ms Courtney's performance in her time as 
minister for primary industries and particularly supporting the growth of 
our great salmon industry, which this Government has been a strong support 
of. It has not been so strongly supported by the Labor Opposition and 
certainly not supported by the Greens. We recognise that.

I reject the claims made or the implications of the questions this morning 
that suggest this Government with minister Courtney are not strongly 
supporting sustainable growth and ensuring it can be done in a way that 
minimises environmental impacts. That includes for mammals and seals, 
which often interact with the salmon industry. It is an issue of concern 
and has been for this Government for some time. We ended the practice of 
relocating seals from salmon farms. We have committed to review and amend 
the seal management framework to ensure appropriate access to seal 
management measures. Since then, DPIPWE has consulted with the salmon 
industry and other relevant stakeholders to update the framework and 
underlying minimum requirements. 

The Seal Management Framework sets the standards of available tools and 
procedures to manage interactions between seals and the salmon industry 
staff who work there and farm infrastructure in order to minimise the 
risks to farm workers, which are not insignificant and cannot so easily be 
disregarded as they are by the Greens. And also seal welfare. I expect 
that the updated framework and minimum requirements will be finished soon.

In the interim, salmon companies can still use a range of authorised 
management techniques when needed. It is important to recognise that the 
salmon companies have also developed stronger cages to keep seals out and 
to protect fish and ensure a safer working environment. We are very 
conscious not only of supporting the growth in the industry but also 
environmental concerns and animal welfare issues. It is important to note 
that animal welfare is a very important part of conditions in place for 
any of the authorised techniques. It is not disregarded as the Greens 
assert. It is very much an important part of conditions in place for any 
of the authorised management techniques that salmon companies may use. 

I also say, not only to the Greens but to the general public, in keeping 
with our concern and commitment to animal welfare, if anyone has any 
information about the inappropriate use of deterrents or animal welfare 
concerns then they can report them to the authorities to enable 
appropriate investigation.