You are here

Marine Safety Chief Warns of Fish Farm Debris Fatality Risk

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 27 February 2020

Tags: Marine Environment, Fish Farms, Community Safety

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson

Four years after raising significant concerns with fish farm companies, Tasmania’s marine safety chief has reiterated his fears a boat user will be killed if they do not remove floating debris in waterways.

This time Marine and Safety Tasmania (MAST) General Manager, Peter Hopkins, has openly shared his warning on statewide radio.

There was a narrowly-avoided boating accident last weekend in the Mercury Passage. It was only due to the swift action of the operator and the size of the vessel that a serious accident was averted.

It is shocking that in the last four years nothing has changed in the Liberal Government's regulation of fish farm debris - and that the lives of boaters are still being put at risk.

For a MAST representative to feel compelled to speak publicly about his fear of marine fatalities is an indictment on the failure of the salmon farming industry, and the Gutwein Government who should be regulating them for the safety of all.

The management of fish farm debris in the marine environment can be an issue of life or death.

The Liberals’ so-called zero tolerance policy has not changed the safety risk. Boaters are still striking debris, injuring passengers and damaging their vessels too often, and there is effectively no accountability for the responsible fish farm companies.

The cost of industrial debris being carelessly released into our waterways could be someone’s life, but the penalty to restrain this dangerous negligence is minimal.

The fine for marine farming equipment escaping a fish farm lease area, if applied, would be at most five penalty units, currently $840. It is no incentive at all to a multi-million dollar company.

Fish farm companies are consistently putting boat users at risk, but the Liberals are more interested in cosying up to industry leaders than fulfilling their duty of care to all Tasmanians.

MAST is only able to operate within the parameters set by the government of the day. It is up to the Liberals to crack down on fish farm companies.

Mr Hopkins’ fears about the risk of a boating fatality are real, and disturbing. The Gutwein Government cannot wait for someone to die before they take real action.