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Fish Farm Partnership Ignores Environmental Reality

17 May 2018

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens’ Environment spokesperson

Petuna and Tassal’s restructured operations in Macquarie Harbour may temporarily quell nervous shareholders, but will do nothing to fix the fundamentals of a severely degraded ecosystem resulting from intensive fish farming.

This restructure is an attempt to save face, and may stabilise their share price but not the marine environment.

Environment Minister, Elise Archer, acknowledged the need to rapidly respond to “changes” in the Harbour’s environment in her media statement, and was only “hopeful” that it may improve. She’s the Minster responsible, not just a bystander.

For years the Liberals have allowed Tassal to farm mixed year classes of fish in the same leases in the harbour, which is nowhere near world’s best practice. The joint venture proposes to rectify the biosecurity risk, but there’s no intention to reduce the high density of fish being farmed and their environmental impact.

Instead of a wing and a prayer plan by companies focussed on profits, we need a solution to the entire Harbour’s degradation.

Macquarie Harbour needs to be fallowed immediately. It’s the only way to begin a natural rebuilding process to address the almost zero oxygen levels and the dead zones caused by salmon farming practices.

All three fish farm companies are now attempting to expand their industrial farming operations into Storm Bay. This will involve the same practices, under the same government regulations, that have destroyed Macquarie Harbour.

The massive expansion into the Storm Bay is without a social licence. There’s no opportunity to learn from the mistakes of Macquarie Harbour, stop the expansion and consider impacts on the marine environment, residents and other stakeholders.

There’s only one option to keep the salmon farming industry viable for the long-term – a moratorium on expansion, and proper regulation. Without this, we risk another marine disaster, and even further loss of consumer confidence in Tasmania’s ‘clean and green’ produce.