After an inquiry lasting more than two years, the Legislative Council Government Administration Sub-Committee has finally handed down its report on Fin Fish Farming in Tasmania. The report’s 194 findings and 68 recommendations make a lie of the Liberal Government’s claims that Tasmania has the strongest regulatory regime in the world, and confirms all planning, regulation, decision-making and expansion of fish farming is occurring without an established Environmental Standard.
The Inquiry paints a picture of political decision-making in the absence of proper evidence-gathering, or consultation with key bodies and stakeholders. It’s findings emphasise the poor regulatory regime, and a significant lack of transparency.
The Inquiry affirms the longstanding concern of communities and the Greens – there is no requirement for the EPA to set biomass or nitrogen limits on leases, and as a consequence there is no enforceable cap on nitrogen.
This has resulted in enormous harm to Tasmania’s sensitive marine waterways, including potentially irreversible damage to the D’Entrecasteux Channel, the Huon River, Macquarie Harbour and the survival of the Maugean skate.
The fact the Liberals – with the support of Labor – have legislated a nitrogen cap set at a level so high no company could possibly breach, highlights the cynical, political game both parties are playing with communities.
The Greens strongly support the Inquiry’s recommendation that fish farm leases should be withdrawn from sensitive and biodiverse inshore waters. Given the pressures of warming waters, and the existing harm of these sensitive waters, we interpret that to be an effective removal of fish farms from all inshore areas.
The Government’s failure to implement a zero tolerance to marine debris, and the safety risks and environmental impact of debris, were significant concerns noted in the report.
The Government must, at a bare minimum, immediately adopt the Legislative Council Sub-Committee’s key recommendations regarding reforms for fees, environmental licences, EPA improvements, and industry transparency. To truly be world’s best practice, it needs to legislate for all salmon farming to transition to land-based operations