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Fish Farm Goal-Shifting

19 Feb 2017

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens' Environment spokesperson

The Minister for Primary Industries, Jeremy Rockliff, has announced he plans to regulate where salmon farm expansions can occur in the future, and it will "most likely be in oceanic waters".

The timing of this announcement is very convenient for one salmon company. The Minister’s hand-picked Panel has just approved an expansion by Tassal to the warm inshore waters of the East Coast, and a day later he announces he will regulate the “sustainable growth of the industry” into oceanic areas.

It seems the Government is happy to move the regulatory goal posts, but only after their own team has scored a goal.

There are extreme pressure on the commercial operations of Tassal in Macquarie Harbour, who have been directed to vacate a big lease there by the end of this month. The proposed Okehampton Bay lease is too small for their current operational flow, and by reasonable estimates cannot sustain their stated company growth trajectory.

Locals have long suspected that Okehampton Bay is just a stepping stone for Tassal to move to the deeper East Coast waters in the Mercury Passage. What exactly are the Government's plans?

Minister Rockliff needs to define what "oceanic" means. What distance from shore, what water depth, what marine ecosystems, what stakeholder input? Most importantly, he has to commit to never opening up the Mercury Passage for fin fish farming.