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Australian Fur Seals - Welfare


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Tags: Animal Welfare

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN.

your former minister oversaw an appalling regime of seal mismanagement, which has seen almost 9000 underwater explosions and at least 1200 seals being shot, injured and blinded with beanbag bullets this year alone. Animal welfare advocates, including the World Wildlife Fund, are deeply concerned. Given the minister was clearly conflicted in her administration of animal welfare, will you acknowledge the cruelty of this regime and commit to undertaking a review to ensure the welfare of protected Australian fur seals is not sacrificed on the altar of industry expansion, at which your Government worships?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. Again, I have to rebuff the implications about Ms Courtney's performance in her time as minister for primary industries and particularly supporting the growth of our great salmon industry, which this Government has been a strong support of. It has not been so strongly supported by the Labor Opposition and certainly not supported by the Greens. We recognise that.

I reject the claims made or the implications of the questions this morning that suggest this Government with minister Courtney are not strongly supporting sustainable growth and ensuring it can be done in a way that minimises environmental impacts. That includes for mammals and seals, which often interact with the salmon industry. It is an issue of concern and has been for this Government for some time. We ended the practice of relocating seals from salmon farms. We have committed to review and amend the seal management framework to ensure appropriate access to seal management measures. Since then, DPIPWE has consulted with the salmon industry and other relevant stakeholders to update the framework and underlying minimum requirements.

The Seal Management Framework sets the standards of available tools and procedures to manage interactions between seals and the salmon industry staff who work there and farm infrastructure in order to minimise the risks to farm workers, which are not insignificant and cannot so easily be disregarded as they are by the Greens. And also seal welfare. I expect that the updated framework and minimum requirements will be finished soon.

In the interim, salmon companies can still use a range of authorised management techniques when needed. It is important to recognise that the salmon companies have also developed stronger cages to keep seals out and to protect fish and ensure a safer working environment. We are very conscious not only of supporting the growth in the industry but also environmental concerns and animal welfare issues. It is important to note that animal welfare is a very important part of conditions in place for any of the authorised techniques. It is not disregarded as the Greens assert. It is very much an important part of conditions in place for any of the authorised management techniques that salmon companies may use.

I also say, not only to the Greens but to the general public, in keeping with our concern and commitment to animal welfare, if anyone has any information about the inappropriate use of deterrents or animal welfare concerns then they can report them to the authorities to enable appropriate investigation.