Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
The Australian Marine Conservation Society's Sustainable Seafood Guide is known and respected among consumers and restaurateurs who want to purchase sustainably farmed seafood. Disturbingly, AMCS yesterday red-flagged Tasmanian salmon and now recommend consumers say no to buying it. The society's assessment criteria are extensive and rigorous; it is a not a decision that they have taken lightly. In stark contrast to the fairytale you tell of a sustainable industry, the society is truth-telling the environmental disaster that intensive farming has inflicted on Macquarie Harbour. The society is also concerned that plans to dramatically expand the amount of salmon farmed in other coastal areas are not suitably cautious. Ex-minister Sarah Courtney has been responsible for overseeing this juggernaut expansion. Now it is under a red flag, will you as the new minister walk away from this rapid expansion and finally clean up fish farming laws in Tasmania to protect the salmon industry and our state's clean green brand?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question and the opportunity to state some facts about what has happened with respect to the sustainable growth in our important salmon industry as well as actions we have taken to improve environments impacted by farming activity to reduce stock levels in Macquarie Harbour. We have not, as you suggest in your question, let unrestrained growth occur, but have strengthened regulations, as I outlined to the parliament yesterday, to increase penalties and do a lot more not only for the industry but also for the environment than happened under the Labor-Greens government. That is the truth of the matter. A lot of this has not only been done by government but is done on the basis of expert advice and independent agencies such as the EPA to direct our activities and that of industry participants.
I am conscious as, indeed all members of Government and the broader community are, of the importance of ensuring sustainable growth as well as enhanced environmental protections. That is why we have acted and developed a sustainable industry growth plan that provides that framework and, as I said yesterday, we are progressing initiatives contained within that plan. Additional staff have been engaged within the EPA to undertake finfish farming compliance and monitoring, which refutes what you said in your question because it is another example of the additional steps we are taking. An information portal to provide the public with easier and greater access to information about salmon farming in Tasmania is under development and it will provide much wider information about the industry, including environmental and regulatory information.
We have made it clear to industry participants as well that we have a zero- tolerance attitude to marine debris, so compliance inspections are increasing. We are working with industry to proactively look at ways to reduce debris and we are also working together with industry broadly to develop contemporary biosecurity planning, so there is a collaborative approach. We engage and consult and take on board the views of all interested parties who want to contribute to that sustainable pathway forward and we will act as a government to improve environmental outcomes. We have actually done that in government.
Dr Woodruff - How?
Mr HODGMAN - If you want me to outline them all again I will. As I said, we reduced stock levels at Macquarie Harbour and increased penalties in the regulatory processes for ensuring that our industry is performing as best it can. These are things that have happened under majority Liberal government that did not happen in the four years under a Labor-Greens government. We believe in a strong, sustainable salmon industry continuing to grow and support Tasmanian communities, employ many thousands of Tasmanians across the state and produce a product which is very much synonymous with Tasmania's brand - high in quality, high in value and very much a part of our Tasmanian brand.