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Salmon Farming - Damage to World Heritage Area in Macquarie Harbour

15 March 2017

Ms DAWKINS question to MINISTER for ENVIRONMENT, PARKS and HERITAGE, Mr GROOM
[10.30 a.m.]
Yesterday, salmon producer Huon Aquaculture revealed damning evidence that the Macquarie Harbour salmon farming dead zone has spread one kilometre into the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The industry has provided the evidence of damage. Will you today confirm the damage is as significant and widespread as salmon producers claim? The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and its unparalleled natural and cultural values are globally significant and you are legally required to ensure its protection. How can you and your Government not only stand by and watch the TWWHA be destroyed by an almost unregulated industry, but you cheer it on? The EPA has supposedly shut down the Franklin salmon lease but the fish are still in the water. This looks like Government-sanctioned damage to a World Heritage asset. Will you confirm the damage and what will you do about the damage to the TWWHA from unchecked salmon farming in Macquarie Harbour?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. The Hodgman Liberal Government is a very strong supporter of sustainable growth in the salmon industry. We recognise that this is a very important industry for the state and employs a lot of Tasmanians, including in regional parts of the state. We do not apologise for that. We recognise it is in the broad interest of this state that we show support for a growth industry that can deliver jobs and investment, including for regional parts of the state.

We also recognise that the Tasmanian community expects the Government to take seriously our commitment to ensure that the industry is on a sustainable path to growth. That is why we have sought to tighten up the regulations and the monitoring in relation to fish farming including in Macquarie Harbour, but I will say it was a failure of the former Labor-Greens government to not act in relation to this issue. We are acting to tighten up the regulatory arrangements to make sure the Tasmanian people can have confidence in the sustainability of this very important industry.

We have made it very clear to industry that it must be genuinely sustainable. We have made very clear to the regulator our expectations that the regulations operate in a way which can give confidence to the broad Tasmanian community about the sustainability of this very important industry.

We recognise there have been adverse environmental impacts in Macquarie Harbour as a result of salmon farming and that must be addressed. The EPA is monitoring the situation and making the decision about the appropriate response in order to ensure that farming activities are genuinely sustainable. Decisions have already been made to reduce the number of fish. The situation will continue to be monitored and it may well be that there is a need to reduce that number further. We stand by our commitment to ensure this is a genuinely sustainable growth path for a very important industry.

In relation to the latest information from Huon Aquaculture on the potential impact on the World Heritage Area, I have asked the EPA to look into that information further and provide advice in relation to it. I want to make it clear that significant adverse impacts on the World Heritage Area from salmon farming is not acceptable to the Tasmanian Government and that is why we have asked the EPA to provide further advice, but it is very important that we base our decision making on facts and do not react emotionally to allegations. That is exactly what we are doing.

I have no advice that there is a direct causal link between salmon farming and damage in the World Heritage Area but I take any allegations in relation to that seriously. That is why we have sought further information from the EPA in dealing with this issue. The Tasmanian people expect the Government to be focused on ensuring a genuinely sustainable industry. They say that for multiple reasons because they want a government that is supporting a growth industry that can attract investment and create jobs, but they also want to ensure these funding activities are being managed responsibly. They do not expect the Government to react emotionally but to make objective decisions based on fact. That is the commitment of the Tasmanian Government. We will do all we can to ensure there is genuinely responsible management of what is a very important industry for our state.