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Liberals Show No Concern for Environment on Fish Farm Expansion

3 May 2016

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Ms WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRIES and WATER, Mr ROCKLIFF

[10.55 a.m.]

The east coast waters of Tasmania are a planetary global warming hot spot.  This summer saw a marine heatwave that ran for more than 140 days with temperatures 4.5 degrees warmer than average.  A marine farming lease was issued for Okehampton Bay in 1999.  Now there is a proposal before you to farm nearly one million salmon in the bay, but DPIPWE has not undertaken any modelling of the impacts of this development and is not planning to do so.  They have argued that the farming in the south-east of the state is in a similar environment to Okehampton Bay and specific modelling of local conditions is not needed.  It has been 17 years since this lease site was approved, in which time we have seen dramatic warming and changes in the marine environment.  Why are you a cheer squad for unregulated expansion of this industry and why can't you step in and regulate for the benefit for all Tasmanians?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, this is a highly regulated industry, as the member well knows, and an important industry for Tasmania.

Ms Woodruff interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  If the member who asked the question wants the minister to address the question she need to be quiet.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I know those on the east coast welcome the opportunity of the aquaculture industry and salmon farming on the east coast.  They welcome it because, as we know, there have been some very challenging times economically and in terms of employment on the east coast in recent years.

Ms Woodruff interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  The member will allow the minister to address her very long-winded question.

Mr ROCKLIFF - The Great Oyster Bay and Mercury Passage marine farming development plan received final ministerial approval back in 1998, as the member said.  It is the marine farming development plan that specifies what may be grown in the marine farm farming zone.  The plan identifies that zone 4 at Okehampton Bay near Triabunna is the only zone in the plan area permitted to grow finfish.

The development of the plan involved two two-month public consultation periods, the first in August 1997 and the other in June 1998.  Marine farm lease 236 was issued in the zone for Okehampton Bay in 1999 with an environmental baseline survey conducted in 2000.  This lease area was first licensed to grow Atlantic salmon in 2000.  The plan was reviewed in 2007 and there was only one public submission received and that was not related to finfish farming.

In 2015 Spring Bay Seafoods again licensed marine farming lease 236 for Atlantic salmon.  Spring Bay Seafoods has entered into an agreement with Tassal operations to grow Atlantic salmon within marine farming lease number 236.

Ms Woodruff interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, I warn the member for Franklin, Ms Woodruff, for constant interjection.

Mr ROCKLIFF - It should be no surprise to the member that the Hodgman Liberal Government is a very strong supporter of the salmon industry in Tasmania.  It employs people and is important for local and regional economies.  A great example of that is on the west coast in Queenstown and Strahan, which we know has had some very tough times.  It was great to meet a young student participating in the extension of Mountain Heights School just a few weeks ago who is training in the aquaculture area and is employed by one of the three companies in Strahan.  This is all good news and this young person was excited about his future and the opportunities aquaculture can provide for him in terms of his employment.

This is a $500 million industry for Tasmania.  The member knows full well that it is a highly regulated industry, and independently regulated at that.  I am very concerned, as are many people who knew this day and time was coming, because once the Greens had done their absolute best to destroy the forest industry and wreck as many lives and jobs as possible, we knew their next target was the aquaculture industry and, in this case, the salmon industry.

This is a highly-regarded, well-renowned industry we should all be proud of.  It is good for our brand in terms of premium product and good for our local economy and employment.  It is one of the most strongly regulated industry in the world.  As to the company in Okehampton Bay, Tassal, it has shown absolute leadership in environmental sustainability. 

If Ms Woodruff had bothered to do her homework, she would have known that the marine farm development plan in Great Oyster Bay and Mercury Passage had plenty of public consultation.  There was a review in 2007 and it upsets me that she is intent on destroying yet another industry Tasmania can be very proud of that employs thousands of Tasmanians and supports our rural and regional economies.