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Extreme Weather Event - Effect on Seals and Sharks

Rosalie Woodruff MP

Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Tags: Seals, Animal Welfare, Floods

Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRIES and WATER, Ms COURTNEY

Accompanying the report of salmon pens with holes the size of trucks in the sides, we have also heard of dead seals being washed up on shorelines. You dodged the last question to confirm the reported largest global escape of salmon. Can you confirm whether there have been reports to your department of seal or shark deaths resulting from storm effects on fish farm operations?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. As I outlined in my previous answer, the weather conditions experienced in Storm Bay as a result of the event were severe. As we understand, the salmon industry is constantly evolving and adapting to the challenges of marine farming. Events such as the recent storm continue to test and challenge technologies and systems. This approach leads to continual improvement in technologies and practises and they will underpin sustainability of the industry's expansion in Tasmanian waters.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. It goes to relevance. This is the same answer the minister read out earlier. The question relates to whether there were reports to her, through the department, of seal and shark deaths. Answer the question.

Ms COURTNEY - As I was outlining, salmon infrastructure across Tasmania held up well.

Dr Woodruff - No, it did not.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, please allow the minister to answer.

Ms COURTNEY - However, damage was sustained by Huon Aquaculture at operational sites off Trumpeter Bay and on the east coast of North Bruny Island. Marine farming equipment broke free and debris was washed ashore. MAST promptly issued a notice to mariners advising that some equipment had broken free from Huon Aquaculture sites, urging mariners to navigate with care and report any debris.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I ask you to bring the minister to the question, please.

Madam SPEAKER - I ask the minister to answer that question.

Ms COURTNEY - I am outlining the process that leads up to the question, so if you could please listen I will address your areas of interest.

I am pleased to report Huon Aquaculture has been responsive to this extreme weather event. I thank all their staff members because it was important we put the safety of workers first. The company implemented a response plan, which involved the retrieval of debris from the shoreline within a matter of days. No environmental harm has been reported as a result of that infrastructure washing ashore or its subsequent removal.

Huon Aquaculture has now reported that a preliminary assessment indicates some fish have escaped as a result of the damage sustained. This notification was made to the department in accordance with marine farming licence conditions. My department will continue to work with Huon Aquaculture to quantify and assess the losses. Both Huon Aquaculture and Tassal have been in regular contact with the department and have been cooperative in providing post-storm updates.