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Environment or Economic Protection Agency Overseeing Macquarie Harbour?

1 Dec 2017

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens’ Marine Environment spokesperson

The context of the EPA’s meeting to discuss “contingency planning for mass mortalities” in Macquarie Harbour is all wrong.

The EPA have acknowledged the harbour’s severely low oxygen levels are worse than last year, and as harbour waters continue to warm and higher numbers of diseased fish present, we desperately need an environmentally-focussed plan for the marine mass-mortality. By every measure, Macquarie Harbour has been stocked well past its limit.

When it comes to salmon farming, the EPA prioritises the financial bottom line of the three companies. It’s not protecting the Harbour’s marine environment, the unique marine species that call it home, or its World Heritage values.

The Environment Protection Agency is acting more like the ‘Economic Protection Agency’ in its mismanagement of Macquarie Harbour.

Under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act, Minister Archer is responsible for ensuring salmon farming in Macquarie Harbour doesn’t significantly impact on the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, or on the threatened Maugean skate. Breaches of that Act are punishable by imprisonment and substantial fine.

The EPA’s decision earlier in the year to allow Tassal to exceed their biomass capacity rang warning bells. Now Macquarie Harbour’s poor environmental conditions have caused the mass death of salmon, with many more anticipated. If conditions are killing the salmon, they’ll be killing the other marine life too.

The EPA has stopped prioritising threatened species and biodiversity, which it should be protecting first and foremost. The regulator has lost its way on salmon in Macquarie Harbour, and the rest of the State. The Environment Minister, Elise Archer, has a legal obligation to step in.