Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson
The new fish farm regulations that come into force today* confirm the fears held by many coastal communities.
The Environment Minister’s regulations mean no public consultation will be required for finfish leases that have sat dormant for more than 10 years. These ‘zombie leases’ can now be officially activated without the public having any say whatsoever.
The government also continues to refuse to publish the list of which companies own which marine farming zombie leases around the State.
Both Okehampton and Norfolk Bay were zombie lease sites the community only found out about after new fish farm operations were planned, but people had no chance for a say.
The Liberals’ new regulations lock in that process, and lock out local communities.
The regulations provide the Environment Protection Authority’s Director sole discretion to issue an ‘emergency permit’, another mechanism to sidestep public consultation and deny a legal challenge. This was the EPA’s approach for Norfolk Bay, when the first residents knew about salmon farming was when pens were towed in.
These fish farm regulations don’t protect the interests of the community, who have a right to a say and to see an independent scientific assessment of marine impacts. The new regulations are about the Liberals looking after the salmon industry, in secret, yet again.
Minister Archer has even watered down the government’s draft of the regulations, which would have seen all new applications - even zombie leases - go to the full Board of the EPA for assessment, and public consultation.
These regulations show Minister Archer and the Liberals hardened their resistance to widespread concerns expressed by communities and scientists about the salmon industry expansion. To protect our clean green brand, the base of all successful Tasmanian industries, the government must regulate to give people a say about their coastlines.