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East Coast Salmon Farm Expansion Concern

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 7 April 2016

Tags: Environment, Tassal, East Coast, Okehampton Bay, Triabunna, Tourism, Environment Protection Authority, Marine Farming Planning Review Panel, Recreational Fishing

That the House:—

(1) Notes the fin-fish farming expansion by Tassal into the east coast marine environment, commencing with the proposed establishment of 28 new pens at Okehampton Bay, has caused enormous community concern.

(2) Acknowledges that:—

(a) the Orford and Triabunna area is home to a diverse community of locals and shack owners;

(b) it supports the largest recreational boating area on Tasmania’s East Coast;

(c) tourists are attracted to the area to enjoy the nearby Maria Island Marine Reserve, pristine beaches and magnificent waterways; and

(d) the marine area supports scallop, crayfish, squid, oyster and abalone fisheries and the local jobs these provide.

(3) Recognises that concerns are being raised by environmentalists, with respect to the potential for damaging impacts to the marine environment, and by local residents with respect to impacts to the recreational and commercial fishing communities, the amenity of shack owners, and tourism businesses.

(4) Understands that open-cage salmon farming is currently one of the most harmful aquaculture production systems and poses significant environmental threats by exposing local ecosystems to:—

(a) nutrient loading;

(b) oxygen depletion;

(c) toxic algae blooms;

(d) disease and parasites;

(e) contamination from chemical treatments;

(f) marine debris;

(g) farm waste including tens of thousands of tonnes of fish manure, urine and uneaten feed;

(h) antibiotics, vaccines and pesticides; and

(f) escapes.

(5) Further acknowledges that it is the marine environment, local communities and existing industry that bears the cost of penning over a million fish and using the marine environment to absorb the associated impacts, and that without externalising these costs, the proposed operation would not be commercially viable.

(6) Further recognises that the proposed expansion of fin-fish farming into the east coast without addressing the impacts of current marine farming practices places Tasmania’s brand and reputation as a clean green food producer at risk, leaving existing industries and the community to suffer.

(7) Further understands that:—

(a) the 1998 Great Oyster Bay and Mercury Passage Marine Farming Development Plan, which governs the use of the relevant marine space, has not been reviewed since 2008; and

(b) the marine farming licence that is being relied upon to enable fin-fish farming at the site by Tassal was issued to the previous leaseholder to grow Atlantic salmon in 2000.

(8) Further recognises that rapid changes are occurring in our marine environment due to climate change, with estimates that Tasmania’s east coast seas are warming at 3 to 4 times the global average rate, and that these changes are already being observed to significantly impact on the distribution and physiology of marine species along the east coast.

(9) Further notes the 2015 Senate Inquiry Report ‘Regulation of the Fin-Fish Aquaculture Industry in Tasmania’ recommends greater transparency of planning decisions, the public release of data, and increased funding to improve the planning, monitoring and compliance of this fishing sector.

(10) Calls on the Government to:—

(a) move aquaculture industry planning decisions within the legislative framework of the ‘Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993’;

(b) remove the Department of Primary Industries Parks Water and Environment as the industry regulator, and replace it with the Environment Protection Authority and the LUPA Act;

(c) reverse the 2011 amendments to the ‘Marine Farming Planning Act 1995’ which removed the binding nature of determinations from the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel;

(d) undertake an independent environmental impact assessment on the impact of Tassal’s proposed 28 fish pens containing over one million salmon on the vulnerable marine ecosystems in the Mercury Passage and surrounds;

(e) undertake community and economic impact assessments to understand the impacts of the proposed development on the local community, recreational fishing, tourism and existing fisheries in the area;

(f) undertake sediment, current and tidal modelling specific to the Mercury Passage to establish a baseline for future benchmarking of impacts on marine ecosystems, and on other community and economic interests;

(g) make available the results of Tassal’s environmental self-monitoring program at the five monitoring sites in Spring Bay, Okehampton Bay, North Mercury Passage, North Maria Island and Central Mercury passage since August 2014; and

(h) carry out extensive community consultation with all stakeholders, including residents, shack owners, environmental organisations, recreational and commercial fishing communities and tourism operators, about the planned movement of fin-fish farming into the east coast waters.