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Liberals Take Evasion to the Next Level on Salmon

3 Jul 2018

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens’ Environment spokesperson

The Minister for Primary Industries today in Parliament refused to respond to allegations that 1,200 salmon a day are dying from Pilchard orthomyxovirus (POMV) at the Dover and Tasman salmon farm leases.

The Greens raised allegations that up to 300,000 salmon had died so far. Minister Courtney, however, appeared unable or unwilling to confirm the outbreak.

As Minister responsible for both biosecurity and salmon farming, Ms Courtney’s failure to answer questions exposed a new level of deflection and denial by the Hodgman Government.

When questioned, Sarah Courtney tried to handball the issue to her colleague, Environment Minister Elise Archer - who also refused to answer.

Both Ms Courtney and Ms Archer refused to - or could not - confirm whether an outbreak of POMV has occurred, whether chemicals have been misused to control it, and whether an investigation is being undertaken into any marine environment impacts.

Either these Ministers have no understanding about their portfolio responsibilities, or they are determined to deflect and deny any reports of mismanagement in the salmon industry.

Last summer in Macquarie Harbour, 1.35 million fish died from a combination of POMV, low oxygen levels, and warmer waters. Only two months ago, hundreds of thousands of salmon in Storm Bay escaped from pens supposedly designed to withstand the forces of wave and wind.

Tasmanian salmon farming is operating at an industrial scale, without anything like sufficient regulations, yet a massive and rapid expansion into Storm Bay is planned. It’s the role of government to regulate an expanding industry so there isn’t chaos or damage to the marine environment.

Government ministers should be actively overseeing the salmon industry along with its impact on the marine environment and coastal communities. The evasion of questions on such a potentially serious salmon disease outbreak and biosecurity risk underscores this is not happening under Ministers Courtney and Archer.