You are here

Rockliff Allowing Salmon Farm Expansion Before Panel's Findings Received

22 September 2016
Rosalie Woodruff MP

Thursday 22 September 2016

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

[10.22 a.m.]

You have requested an independent assessment by the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel of the 20-year-old lease for salmon farming at Okehampton Bay.  You said the purpose is to give the community confidence.  The panel's findings are not due until February next year and the community is preparing its submissions now.  Despite the assessment under way, Tassal does not seem to think there is any reason to put their projects on hold.  Their sustainability manager said on 8 September:

As far as I am concerned, we have a lease in place and we have a licence.  We could put a pen out there tomorrow if we wanted to and start growing fish.

Which one is true?  Have you cancelled Tassal's permits and told them to halt their plans?  Is this another fake process designed to hide the fact Tassal will go full steam ahead with their expansion onto the east coast, regardless of the panel's finding?  Will you talk to Tassal and tell them to stop work now?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question.  In the last few months the Government has made significant reforms to the salmon industry.  We want to bring community confidence in the industry along with us.  A great majority of Tasmanian people want to see sustainable expansion of the salmon industry in Tasmania.  It employs many thousands of people and is worth more than $700 million to this state.  To strengthen the regulatory regime around salmon, we have made a number or welcome changes.  For example, we have strengthened the environmental regulation system to take it right throughout the supply chain with the EPA - environmental management and regulation - in the factories or hatcheries and right through the supply chain to the fish farms.  I would hope the member would welcome that.  We have strengthened the penalty regime as well.  I would expect the Greens to welcome that and a number of other reforms.

I recognise of course the discussion and debate around the Okehampton Bay expansion.  It is a 20-year-old lease, first approved, I believe, in 1998.  A review was undertaken in 2007 of that lease and a review is due in 2018.

Ms Woodruff interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  The member for Franklin will cease her interjections.

Mr ROCKLIFF - It seemed to me in ensuring that we have community confidence in the salmon industry and to ensure sustainable management, we needed to give the community a say when it comes to Tassal's plans for expansion in Okehampton Bay.  We have done that around the opportunity for people to submit their views on the expansion, particularly around environmental management and monitoring.  I expect the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel to report back to me at towards the end of February 2017 and will welcome that.  We want a very balanced -

Ms Woodruff interjecting.

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

Mr ROCKLIFF - When it comes to any sector in primary industry we want the balance to be right.  We recognise that the agriculture and primary industries, and the aquaculture and fishing sectors, employ many thousands of Tasmanians.  Not only is it growing under this Government, but it also needs to have that sustainable growth and community confidence.  That is why it is important that we have appropriate regulations in place, and bring the community along with us when it comes to expanding our agricultural enterprises.  We need to ensure that along with the integrity of our brand, which is our clean, natural, safe brand - off which we can leverage so many well-renowned products, that are grown and produced in Tasmania - is strongly maintained.