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Storm Bay Salmon Farm Approval Shows Disrespect for Community, and Science

29 Oct 2018

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson

The Liberals’ decision to approve Tassal and Huon Aquaculture’s mass expansion into Storm Bay is a shocking indication of the disregard it holds for community consultation and scientific evidence.

Lengthy Marine Farming Panel hearings were undertaken to assess community concerns and the marine impacts of a Storm Bay expansion, and people participated in this process seriously and in good faith.

Tassal’s lease site proposal west of Wedge Island comprises 64 pens, which will see a massive increase in nutrients. Local commercial and recreational fishers presented evidence to the Marine Farming Panel’s hearings about the profound impacts this would have on the waterway and associated estuaries.

The Storm Bay hearings made a mockery of respectful and formal consultation. No participant received any response to their written or verbal presentations, and no final report was released to justify the Panel’s decision before the approval was dumped into an afternoon media release. 

Premier Hodgman and Acting Primary Industries Minister has made a captain’s call to approve Tassal and Huon Aquaculture’s expansion into Storm Bay without addressing his community’s concerns, or releasing the Panel’s scientific assessment to justify his decision.

The Storm Bay sea-grab by Huon Aquaculture, Tassal - and yet to be approved Petuna - will ultimately see 19 million square metres of public waters privatised. A seascape equivalent in size to 1,138 Sydney Cricket Grounds.

The salmon industry is moving as fast as it can to exit Macquarie Harbour and the D’Entrecastaux Channel, waters they have seriously degraded. Intensive salmon farming practices have created dead zones, critically low oxygen levels, impacts upon World Heritage values, and produced slime, stench and debris along shorelines. 

Despite the Macquarie Harbour and D’Entrecastaux legacy, together the three companies are aspiring to produce 80,000 tonnes of salmon a year in Storm Bay, which is more than one and a half times Tasmania's total salmon production last year.

Neither Tassal nor Huon are prepared for the weather or farming conditions of Storm Bay. That was made apparent during storms earlier this year, which spread fish farm debris and salmon across the Channel, Storm and Norfolk Bay.

Huon Aquaculture’s mismanagement of biosecurity required the company establish a “hospital site” for potentially-infected salmon in Norfolk Bay. This biosecurity issue has still not been resolved, and many in the community are wondering whether more hospital pens will continue to appear, ad hoc, in adjoining waterways.

The Premier is right about one thing, this massive expansion of salmon farming into Storm Bay is a ‘new frontier’ – one neither the government nor the industry is prepared for.