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Good Riddance to the Ocean Monarch

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 31 January 2019

Tags: Biosecurity, Environment, Marine Environment, Derwent River

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson

The Ocean Monarch oil rig arrived in the Derwent River without a by-your-leave or any biosecurity checks, and anchored at the entrance to Ralph’s Bay. After 11 weeks of sustained public concern and criticism about the risk it presented to our marine environment, the oil rig has finally departed. 

Good riddance to the Ocean Monarch and its associated marine environment risks. Tasmania doesn’t want you back.

While the physical presence of the Ocean Monarch has departed, questions still remain about what it’s left behind. We are yet to know for certain whether the oil rig left behind serious invasive marine pests, like the colonial sea squirt.

The Ocean Monarch’s visit uncovered massive holes in Tasmania’s marine biosecurity defences, and an unhealthy willingness of government to simply accept the word of the vessels’ owners.

Many Tasmanians were shocked to realise the Environment Protection Authority only commenced an assessment of the rig’s biosecurity risk after it had already anchored in the Derwent for several weeks, and did not demand an independent check for pests.

After a seven-week delay, the limited robotic dive identified a possible growth of the invasive colonial sea squirt on the rig’s hull. We can only hope that the “possible” and “unlikely” findings of the sea squirt’s presence are true.

It is clear from the oil rig’s visit the environmental regulator has neither the teeth nor the resources to pre-emptively board and independently assess the hulls of visiting vessels.

While Tasmanians bid farewell and good riddance to the Ocean Monarch, we hope Environment Minister Elise Archer is getting on with the job of fixing the gaping hole in our legislative biosecurity net.