Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRIES and WATER, Ms PALMER
The Legislative Council's extensive public inquiry into the finfish industry has delivered its report. It makes a lie of your Government's claims that Tasmania has the world's strongest regulatory regime. It confirms that our environmental rules and consultation with stakeholders are woeful and that political decision-making happens without evidence or transparency.
After decades of harm to Tasmania's sensitive marine waterways there is irreversible ongoing damage to inshore farmed areas and wildlife. The report recommends removing fish farms from sensitive inshore waters, setting an environmental standard, dealing with dangerous and polluting debris and improving the EPA and transparency. Minister, before signing off on a 10-year expansion plan, will you commit to first implementing the inquiry's 68 recommendations?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. The Tasmanian Liberal Government notes the release of the Legislative Council's final inquiry report into finfish farming in Tasmania and it will take time to consider this report, as it should. This Government is ensuring that our salmon industry remains sustainable, that it is world-leading, and retains the support of the Tasmanian community into the future.
The report has flagged accountability, effective and appropriate regulation and transparency as key matters for consideration. These are things that we as a government have been actively progressing and delivering on under the Sustainable Industry Growth Plan for the Salmon Industry, which was established in 2017. We are now building on the outcomes to date and advancing the development of the 10-year salmon plan. We are committed to delivering a plan that is centred on innovation, continuous improvement and world-leading practices.
The plan will establish long-term actions that support a vision for a sustainable industry, and which continues to support Tasmanian jobs and businesses across the supply chain. Delivery and implementation of the plan in 2023 remains a key focus of this Government and the finfish inquiry report will be considered in this context.
Importantly, while the plan is being developed, there will be no further increase in the leasable area of finfish farms in state waters. This principle was announced by Government last year and I note it is one of the key Legislative Council's report recommendations and aligns with our Government's position.
I know that it has been two and a half years since the inquiry was established and that many of the 68 recommendations put forward in the Council's report have or are already being progressed by Government in its development of the 10-year salmon plan.
It is also encouraging to note that many of the stakeholders who made representations to the inquiry have had the opportunity to also participate in the initial stages of consultation on the development of the 10-year plan. We will continue to engage with and listen to stakeholders throughout this process.
The salmon industry is extremely important for our economy, our regional communities and their families. It is a primary industry that is sustainable, well regulated, and underpinned by robust processes and practices that are appropriately provided. It is part of our brand and an industry Tasmanians can be really proud of.
We will consider the report in more detail and provide a formal response in due course.
Mr Speaker, the new 10-year salmon plan builds on eight years of continuous improvement in industry regulation, transparency, monitoring and performance. For example, we have transferred responsibility for the environmental regulation of the industry to the independent EPA, including the requirement of new environmental licences along with environmental monitoring.
We introduced a zero-tolerance policy on marine farming debris, and gave Marine and Safety Tasmania a formal role in safety enforcements around marine farms. We brought greater transparency through publishing environmental fish health and other industry data on the salmon portal, as well as benchmarking the Tasmanian industry through the Tasmanian Salmon Industry Environmental Scorecard.
We invested with industry into science and research and development through the world-class IMAS, the Blue Economy CRC and the aquatic animal health and vaccine centre in Launceston. We are advancing accountability through developing new regulatory standards for biosecurity, the environment and marine farming operations. We have already prioritised and established additional resources for independent regulation through the appointment of a new role, the Director of Finfish Compliance in the independent EPA. We have already announced that we are reviewing fees and charges applicable to the salmon industry to ensure full cost recovery and appropriate return to the Tasmanian community.
As for the way forward, we are engaging with the community, the industry and a broad range of stakeholder groups right now to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to provide their input int the development of the 10-year plan.