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Fish Farm Debris Unacceptable

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Tags: Macquarie Harbour, Marine Environment, Fish Farms

Ms WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I rise to read into the House some information I received from the Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania.  I have been contacted now by a wave of constituents in Franklin, particularly from people who live on the Huon River and D'Entrecasteaux, or people who sail on the D'Entrecasteaux.  They have been shocked to encounter over the recent months an increasing amount of marine debris that is fish farm refuse.  They have encountered this by bumping into it with their boat.  One person has reported damage to their lead keel - unsubstantiated, but still a very concerning allegation - from large poly pipe.  I have in my possession some images that were taken in a clean up that was done by some members of that yacht club of a massive fish pen poly pipe structure, at least three metres out of the water, which was on the loose and floating around in Snake Bay.

What I am hearing is that we have a situation in Tasmania where there is no effective mechanism at the moment for doing anything about the marine debris, which is increasingly piling up on our shorelines as a result of fish farm activity.  This is just one of the many problems with the regulation and management of the fish farm industry in Tasmania, not just the rules that are there, but the lack of enforcement.  The concern that we have is on behalf of communities, sailors, recreational fishers, people in the tourism industry, conservationists, people who live on the east coast who are deeply concerned about the unchecked, secretive expansion of this industry, the fish farm industry, in Tasmania.

It is deeply concerning that not a single member for Lyons spoke about whether we should have a fish farm inquiry.  Not a single sitting member of Lyons went to the Triabunna Community Hall meeting and listened to the 250 residents who turned up there to talk about their concern about expansion of fish farms onto the east coast into Okehampton Bay.  Not one Lyons member.  Not the Leader of the Opposition, Ms White; not Liberal or Labor members turned up.  They have, as far as I understand from people in the community, yet to show their face and sit down with the community and ask them to explain the concerns they have.  It is clear from the response that we have had here today that there is an accelerating number of concerns that people in the community have, and the industry itself, about the manner of regulation of this industry.

We have, today, a media release from Huon Aquaculture saying that they are going to have to seek yet another legal response to a potential failure of regulation to keep the industry operating on a fair and even playing field.  It is not good enough that one company needs to question whether the Government will step in, whether the EPA will step in and regulate to look after the marine environment and to look after the biosecurity threats to their business as a result of activities in Macquarie Harbour, which have already caused serious damage to the environment.

We had the Director, Wes Ford, admitting in February on the back of the report from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies that Macquarie Harbour is at the point of environmental collapse.  We have a company, Tassal, which refused to comply with the EPA's direction to get their fish out of the Franklin lease by February and they took an extra two months.  They refused to comply and what did the Government do?  No penalty.  Now that company has said to the ASX market that they will keep what they know to be more than the biomass cap the EPA set at 14 000 tonnes.  They know they will have about 22 000 tonnes above the cap for eight months and they do not care.  Why would they care?  No-one is going to call them to account. 

We know from people on the east coast that despite there being no land base for Tassal to launch their operations into Okehampton Bay they are hell bent on putting fish in the water in August.  They know they can hold a gun to the head of the Government and demand to keep them there, despite the fact they still need to go through a process with the planning commission to rezone the land.  Why are they doing that?  They know it will fail.  They will not be able to get a land base but nonetheless they are going to go ahead, put the fish in the water, hold the Government to ransom and say, what are you going to do? 

This Government, this Liberal Government, and the Labor Party are not going to do anything to stand up for the people on the east coast who want to have a future that they have some control over.  They should be able to decide their future.  They should be able to say whether they have a tourism industry that expands.  These are the things we expect the Government to take some action on instead of not issuing any penalties for the non-compliances this industry is having.