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Oil Rig Biosecurity Concerns Remain

11 Jan 2019

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson

There are serious questions about the Ocean Monarch oil rig, and what action will be taken to determine there is a definitive finding of “no risk” from the invasive colonial sea squirt.

The Greens have written to the Director of the EPA about the inadequate biosecurity threat assessment undertaken on the Ocean Monarch oil rig.*  

An inspection of the Ocean Monarch’s hull, conducted by Biofouling Solutions on 5th January 2019, identified three white growths that are ‘possibly’ the invasive Didemnum Perlucidum.

The assessment method used meant it was not possible to definitively conclude whether the growths are colonial sea squirt, and whether they would be capable of reproducing. The report’s conclusion was that this was ‘unlikely’.

The inspection was not independent, and was conducted by the company’s own contractor. It also was not undertaken by divers, and the remotely operated vehicle used missed parts of the hull.

There is a serious threat to native species and aquaculture industries if the inadequate inspection’s conclusions are wrong.

The government needs to take immediate action, and provide a definitive finding on whether the sea squirt is now in Tasmanian waters.

The Greens raised concerns in State Parliament and with Minister Archer in mid-November about the high potential of a biosecurity risk from this oil rig, and the need to do a visual dive inspection.

At that point, the government stated it was satisfied with advice from Biosecurity Tasmania that the oil rig was ‘low risk’, and decided no visual inspection would be required.

Given the history of the oil rig’s passage to Tasmania, relying on that advice and not requiring an independent inspection was irresponsible. The government needs to make a definitive assessment of whether there is a biosecurity threat from the oil rig immediately.

The government should also review the apparently inadequate legislation covering biosecurity assessment protocols for marine pests.

The Liberals’ review of the state’s biosecurity laws is still underway, despite being due to come before Parliament in 2017. The two year delay is clearly putting Tasmania at risk.