You are here

Rockliff Dismisses Macquarie Harbour Mass Death Evidence

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Tags: Macquarie Harbour, Fish Farms, Marine Environment, Okehampton Bay, East Coast

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens' Marine Environment spokesperson 

Evidence of yet another permit breach by Tassal in Macquarie Harbour was released yesterday.  On top of everything else, a mass fish death in 2015 was not reported in the required time.

In Question Time this morning, the Minister for Primary Industries showed no indication he will be enforcing salmon farming regulations.  This is despite the mass fish death event in Macquarie Harbour, and the accompanying concerns raised within his own Department.

Right to Information documents, only released by the Ombudsman, revealed yet another in Tassal’s series of permit breaches in Macquarie Harbour.  This is on top of evidence of damage salmon farming has had on the marine environment, threatened species and the World Heritage Area.

In what's become standard operating practice, the government refused to release this information willingly, ruling it would put Tassal at a “competitive disadvantage”, and raise “unfounded concerns about the production environment”.  After two years, the Ombudsman ultimately overruled this narrow interest test. 

Minister Rockliff has admitted he puts the interests of Tasmania's behemoth fish farm industry foremost.  As ASX-listed companies, this means shareholders are first, and the community and environment, last.

Tassal is a company with an appalling track record for following the rules and this government has repeatedly failed to enforce them, or apply penalties to its major operating breaches. They refused to destock their Franklin lease in the prescribed time, and now indicate they plan to thumb their nose at the EPA’s biomass limit in Macquarie Harbour.

Intensive salmon farming in Macquarie Harbour is causing widespread damage to the marine environment far around pens, and has also damaged the World Heritage Area.

East Coast residents have rejected the Okehampton Bay proposal, and its corrupted approval process. The public concern about salmon farming is well-founded and genuine, the community doesn’t want a repeat of Macquarie Harbour in their pristine waters.

The Liberals have pushed through a dodgy approval for the Okehampton Bay expansion, backed by the Labor Party, and Tassal fish are planned to be in East Coast waters by August.

Without the interests of the environment and communities first, this industry and its accompanying jobs cannot succeed.  If Minister Rockliff wants to look after long-term economic interests, he needs to enforce the rules, and apply penalties for breaches.