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Australian Marine Conservation Society - Red Flag on Tasmanian Salmon

18 October 2018

Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN 

The Australian Marine Conservation Society's Sustainable Seafood Guide is 
known and respected among consumers and restaurateurs who want to purchase 
sustainably farmed seafood. Disturbingly, AMCS yesterday red-flagged 
Tasmanian salmon and now recommend consumers say no to buying it. The 
society's assessment criteria are extensive and rigorous; it is a not a 
decision that they have taken lightly. In stark contrast to the fairytale 
you tell of a sustainable industry, the society is truth-telling the 
environmental disaster that intensive farming has inflicted on Macquarie 
Harbour. The society is also concerned that plans to dramatically expand 
the amount of salmon farmed in other coastal areas are not suitably 
cautious. Ex-minister Sarah Courtney has been responsible for overseeing 
this juggernaut expansion. Now it is under a red flag, will you as the 
new minister walk away from this rapid expansion and finally clean up fish 
farming laws in Tasmania to protect the salmon industry and our state's 
clean green brand?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question and the opportunity to 
state some facts about what has happened with respect to the sustainable 
growth in our important salmon industry as well as actions we have taken 
to improve environments impacted by farming activity to reduce stock 
levels in Macquarie Harbour. We have not, as you suggest in your question, 
let unrestrained growth occur, but have strengthened regulations, as I 
outlined to the parliament yesterday, to increase penalties and do a lot 
more not only for the industry but also for the environment than happened 
under the Labor-Greens government. That is the truth of the matter. A 
lot of this has not only been done by government but is done on the basis 
of expert advice and independent agencies such as the EPA to direct our 
activities and that of industry participants. 

I am conscious as, indeed all members of Government and the broader 
community are, of the importance of ensuring sustainable growth as well as 
enhanced environmental protections. That is why we have acted and 
developed a sustainable industry growth plan that provides that framework 
and, as I said yesterday, we are progressing initiatives contained within 
that plan. Additional staff have been engaged within the EPA to undertake 
finfish farming compliance and monitoring, which refutes what you said in 
your question because it is another example of the additional steps we are 
taking. An information portal to provide the public with easier and 
greater access to information about salmon farming in Tasmania is under 
development and it will provide much wider information about the industry, 
including environmental and regulatory information. 

We have made it clear to industry participants as well that we have a zero-
tolerance attitude to marine debris, so compliance inspections are 
increasing. We are working with industry to proactively look at ways to 
reduce debris and we are also working together with industry broadly to 
develop contemporary biosecurity planning, so there is a collaborative 
approach. We engage and consult and take on board the views of all 
interested parties who want to contribute to that sustainable pathway 
forward and we will act as a government to improve environmental outcomes. 
We have actually done that in government. 

Dr Woodruff - How?

Mr HODGMAN - If you want me to outline them all again I will. As I said, 
we reduced stock levels at Macquarie Harbour and increased penalties in 
the regulatory processes for ensuring that our industry is performing as 
best it can. These are things that have happened under majority Liberal 
government that did not happen in the four years under a Labor-Greens 
government. We believe in a strong, sustainable salmon industry 
continuing to grow and support Tasmanian communities, employ many 
thousands of Tasmanians across the state and produce a product which is 
very much synonymous with Tasmania's brand - high in quality, high in 
value and very much a part of our Tasmanian brand.