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Aqua Spa - Salmon Protest

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Tags: Fish Farms, Marine Environment

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I thank the Bob Brown Foundation and the community around Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula for their peaceful protest this morning. It started at 6 a.m. with three vessels blocking access to the Tassal lease by the Aqua Spa, soon to be owned by Cooke Canada. The mood among the community and the people on the vessels was very relaxed, calm, amicable and positive. The local community there have been trying for years to get Tassal - now Cook Canada - to do better and they have been utterly ignored and pushed away.

Residents have spent months of their lives negotiating and consulting in good faith with Tassal about the conditions in that lease. They have spoken out about the green slime. They have spoken out about the brown snot, and, they have just been given a hand by Tassal -

Members interjecting.

Dr WOODRUFF - Well, you can laugh, and you might if only it were a funny matter. It is a funny word to use for something as serious as a massive algal overgrowth. But that is what community have been seeing in what was a beautiful, pristine, narrow, shallow piece of water right near Port Arthur. The whole area has been utterly spoiled by Tassal's intensive salmon farming.

The police arrived and they were very amicable. They arrived about 9.30 a.m. and it was broken up subsequently to that. But they managed to make it impossible for Aqua Spa to go into that site and to pump more fish into the pens. These are the pens that the chief spin doctor of Tassal, CEO Mark Ryan, promised the communities of Tasmania five years ago that Tassal would be moving out of inshore waters, out of Brabazon Point, out of Tinderbox. Instead, what has happened is he went back into Brabazon Point, he doubled down and went in with more biomass to Tinderbox and he opened an entirely new, utterly inappropriate inshore lease site at Long Bay.

The community was standing up because of the evidence of IMAS. IMAS produced an excellent report in February this year, Rapid Visual Assessment of Rocky Reef Assemblages in Port Arthur. They were looking at the prolonged heavy nutrient and sediment loads being put into the waterways by salmon farming pollution. They were measuring it and the effects because the damage of over-nutrification kills off canopy species, especially rocky reef plants and kelp, and it grows nuisance algal species.

Even though Tassal only stocked part of their leases, so there was a very small amount of fish relative to what there usually is, comparing it to reference sites at other places in Fortescue Bay, the IMAS found the beautiful high macro-algal canopy and pink encrusting algae in those other places was not present at all in Long Bay. Instead, there is nuisance green, nuisance red and other so-called dust and turfing algae. These are the things we euphemistically call green slime and brown snot because that is all we see. They do not provide a habitat for fish and native wildlife. What they do is make the water a big murky soup that nothing, effectively, can live in.

This was backed up by the IMAS report and by the EPA's report released in July, which also showed very concerning high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and a whole range of other concerningly high nutrient levels in this area. Despite the fact that it was a small and insubstantial piece of research relative to the IMAS, nonetheless, it substantiates the findings of the IMAS study.

What we know is that Tassal has been getting away with dumping raw sewage into this beautiful habitat.

Dr Broad - It is not raw sewage.

Dr WOODRUFF - Yes, it is. It is fish wee, that is sewage from fish, it is pollution that goes directly into the waterways. It is incredibly high in nitrogen and it is incredibly damaging to native wild life. It is also damaging to the local residents who knew and loved that place for what it always has been.

I will give the last word to a wonderful woman, Mabs Mollineaux from Bellerive, who wrote to the Mercury the other day, on 20 August. She said:

It should not take a 92-year-old woman to ask that you end the destruction in Long Bay. I made a submission three years ago to the Legislative Council inquiry into finfish farming. I outlined my observations of Long Bay over 89 years, from a child to a great-grandmother, including the terrible damage the bay caused by the introduction of salmon farming. Please, minister, put an end to the destruction caused by salmon farming so future generations can enjoy Long Bay as I once did.

Minister, the community has only started. They will be back.