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IMAS Report Confirms Urgent Need for Full Independent Oversight

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 9 February 2017

Tags: Fish Farms, Macquarie Harbour, Environment, Marine Environment, Okehampton Bay, IMAS, Oxygen Levels

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens' Environment spokesperson

The IMAS report reveals Macquarie Harbour in a state of environmental collapse, with seriously low oxygen levels.  It highlights the damage to World Heritage values, the dead zones under lease sites and an increase in invasive species.

The report confirms that regulation of salmon farming in Tasmania is in dire need of independent regulation. 

Full independence means removing lease approvals and expansions from the Minister and his hand-picked Marine Farming Planning Review Panel.

The IMAS report was prepared largely using existing science.  The government had this information and knew about the state of Macquarie Harbour, yet they still increased the biomass cap to 21,500 last year.  

The steady decline in oxygen levels has been occurring since 2009, with a massive increase in the last 2 years.  Government regulating for short-term commercial interests meant the clear signs of environmental damage that appeared since mid-2013 have been ignored.

The Minister and his hand-picked panel are making decisions about Tassal's Okehampton Bay proposal right now.  

The EPA now monitors existing leases, but they’re hamstrung by the approved conditions of the Minister of the day, and that person’s political priorities.  Without full independence, places like Okehampton Bay could well end up in the same catastrophic state as Macquarie Harbour.

Independent regulation, environmental health and long-term, sustainable jobs go hand in hand.  One major salmon farming company is also calling for improved regulations, but the government is not listening.

The Liberals should be prioritising long-term environmental effects, not short-term business interests.  A responsible government's priority should first lie with the environment, so that healthy waterways can sustain regional jobs and an authentic brand.