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Over 250 Triabunna Residents Express Opposition to Tassal's East Coast Expansion

Rosalie Woodruff MP

Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Tags: Okehampton Bay, Triabunna, Tassal

Ms WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I rise to draw the attention of the House to the very large public meeting held in Triabunna last Sunday that I attended, as did the member for Denison, the Leader of the Tasmanian Greens. There were some 250 people at this public meeting and they came from all walks of life. There were people who lived in Triabunna, people who had owned properties in Triabunna, some for generations, people who worked as commercial fisher people, who worked every day setting and pulling craypots, who worked in the mussel and oyster industries, people who are exporting squid to China, people who were ex-employees of the Tassal, people who were young mothers who dive for abalone, people who enjoy boating on the waters of the Mercury Passage and people who love the pristine beaches of Okehampton Bay.

These people were gathered together in revulsion and protest at a ministerial process of approval for a fish farm expansion on the east coast of Tasmania. We heard from an ex-salmon farmer from Macquarie Harbour, one of the original salmon farmers in this state. He had a small lease in Macquarie Harbour from the early 1990s until 2010 and he spoke very clearly and dispassionately about the realities of farming in a beautiful environment, retaining the beauty of that environment and the question of scale. He spoke about what real jobs in the salmon industry are like when you work at a scale the environment can support. That means nothing like the level of intensity of salmon farming that has occurred in Macquarie Harbour recently and certainly nothing like what is being proposed on the east coast. He said he sees the intensity of salmon farming proposed for Okehampton Bay being 16 times greater than the intensity of fish per hectare that are currently in Macquarie Harbour in Tassal's lease, which we know from independent scientists of the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Science have caused irreversible damage to the Macquarie Harbour marine environment.

What we are looking at is an expansion, a massive scaling up of intensity of fish farming from Macquarie Harbour, where damage now is widely accepted to be irreversible in parts of that harbour, into the pristine, shallow, incredibly warm and poorly flushed waters of Okehampton Bay on the east coast of Tasmania. The community meeting also heard from a woman, Chrissie Materia, who is a marine biologist and a local resident of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. She spoke of the experience of her children growing up there and watching the degradation of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel because of fish farming as it has grown in intensity over the last 10 years or so in that area. She also spoke very clearly about the corruption of processes on the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel. The only truly independent scientist was removed from that panel after the only time that a salmon farm's application for a new lease was rejected, because of the decision of that scientist about the impact it would have had on the channel. After that the Labor government removed the scientist from the panel and changed the law.

We now have a situation where the minister makes the decision about what happens, not an independent scientific panel. We have a process for decision-making on the east coast, which has not included a social impact statement. It has not included an economic assessment of the impact on other businesses.

The day before the public meeting in Triabunna, I was fortunate enough to be taken out on the boat of [Rob and Helen Burnell?? TBC], along with Geoff, Adam and Max Baker. These five people showed me Okehampton Bay. It was a glorious day; the waters were so clear I could look down and see the wrasse and other fish swimming in the waters underneath me. The beaches were so white that I had to put on my sunglasses or I would have been blinded by the brilliance of that incredibly beautiful seascape.

That is the place where we are expected to believe that 800 000 fish pooing will have no effect on the environment. We are expected to believe that a company, Tassal, who expands onto the east coast does not want to go any further. The people in that meeting do not believe that.

Two hundred and fifty people, less four people, put their hand up and said, 'We reject this decision.' Four people were for it. There was another rally at the same time for people who were attempting to drum up some support in the Triabunna area for the Tassal expansion. The media cameras will show that there were about 20 to 30 people at that rally. It might be speculation but I was informed that they were paid to be there.

Ms O'Connor - Some might have been.

Ms WOODRUFF - It may well have been the case.

Mr Shelton - The Greens would know all about that.

Ms WOODRUFF - It is clearly the case that the mayor, Michael Kent, who was dragged up on the stage by the public, did not have the support of his community.

Time expired.