Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson
Lutruwita/Tasmania’s marine environment should be protected to retain its biodiversity, amenity and fish for the future.
Fish farms can cause massive environmental harm, and Tasmania is at a tipping point according to respected environmental management expert Louise Cherrie. If we don’t remove industry and political influence from salmon industry regulation, there is a high risk Tasmania will lose both its unique and priceless marine life, as well as the jobs that a well-managed industry could provide.
The Liberals’ failed regulation of salmon industry, backed by Labor, has cemented what Ms Cherrie called “lazy adaptive management” as the norm. This high-stakes model has no early warning triggers, and is light years from the risk management standard of “high performing businesses”.
Louise Cherrie was one of two marine scientists who resigned from the Storm Bay assessment panel in 2018, because she said “we couldn’t influence any change”. Today she came forward “because of misinformation” about the science for industry expansions being peddled.
Ms Cherrie confirmed critical science has not been done on the impacts of salmon farming’s expansion across Tasmania’s public waterways. Her warning confirms the tragedy coastal communities have already observed – this unregulated expansion of salmon farming is transforming marine waters into barren wastelands.
The approval of expansions by Huon Aquaculture, Tassal and Petuna, most recently into Storm Bay, were without the base biogeochemical modelling to show how much salmon farming the marine environment can withstand.
Ms Cherrie flagged risks for marine life, recreational fishing and human health from salmon farming in Storm Bay, as well as the linked waterways of Derwent River, Frederick Henry Bay and Norfolk Bay. The risks have not been assessed and include reanimating toxic sludge into the food web, accumulation of heavy metals in species such as flounder, and algae smothering reef communities.
The Liberals and Labor have failed to learn the lessons from Macquarie Harbour. Their botched oversight is responsible for the damage to Tasmania’s marine environment, our clean green brand, and for risking the jobs of people who need a sustainably managed industry to provide them security.
Salmon farming in Tasmania needs to follow the lead of other countries and move on land and become closed-loop, with a new regulator and sustainable operations. Without independent assessments and monitoring of impacts, there is no way to keep companies’ profit-making objectives, which put the environment last, from influencing government decisions.
The groundswell against the toxic management of fish farming is clear - Tasmanians expect their political leaders to back public waterways and vibrant, unique marine life over big salmon’s million dollar profits.