Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens' Marine Environment spokesperson
The Greens raised serious reports of diseased and dead salmon in Tassal’s Macquarie Harbour operations in Parliament today. The Minister for Primary Industries, unaware of any problems, undertook to seek advice from the Environment Protection Authority.
The Greens have received information that underwater divers are being summoned from across the State to remove dead and diseased salmon from Tassal pens.
These are serious allegations that, if confirmed, paint the picture of a Harbour that is at breaking point, and not recovering, as we’ve been led to believe.
It’s been suggested the fish deaths are likely due to almost non-existent oxygen levels in the waters below these salmon leases, and the poor living conditions created for those fish and other living creatures in the Harbour.
This may mean an increased threat to the marine environment, and a biosecurity risk to natural values and other salmon farming businesses operating in the Harbour.
Minister Rockliff must confirm whether these allegations of deaths and diseased fish in Macquarie Harbour are true. If they are, he must provide the full details, and tell Tasmanians what actions the EPA will take to force the company to comply with the law.
So far, Minister Rockliff has refused to show any indication he will change this government’s practice of hiding information under “commercial in confidence”, or force Tassal to face penalties for flagrant non-compliance with permit conditions.
These allegations come on the back of yesterday’s information about dead fish found in Tassal’s Macquarie Harbour leases in 2015, and the government’s failure to enforce permit compliance on that company’s reporting. This information was suppressed by the Liberals, and only came to light after a two year battle with the ABC, and a final ruling by the Ombudsman.
The EPA is still operating under delegated authority from DPIPWE when it comes to regulating the salmon farming industry.
The Minister needs to direct the EPA to enforce penalties if companies do not comply with the rules. Otherwise, he’s clearly not serious about keeping this industry for the long term, and championing Tasmania’s clean green image.