You are here

Salmon Industry - 10-Year Plan

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Tags: Fish Farms

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I will speak today about the Government's release of the 10-year salmon industry plan, which has been a very long time coming. I need to take a short romp through the recent history of salmon farming in Tasmania so that we can understand the context in which the community will be reading this plan, the expectations they have for what it needs to fulfil, and the initial response that people have had to it.

In December 2017, we had the Sustainable Industry Growth Plan for the Salmon Industry. That is now five years old. It promised an enormous amount. As we can see from the history of what has happened since December 2017, it utterly failed on delivering its promises. For example, it promised to have a zero-tolerance approach to marine debris; to develop a Tasmanian Salmon Industry Scorecard that would benchmark the industry with international best practice; it would strengthen biosecurity; farm sustainably in Macquarie Harbour; and maintain public confidence in the salmon industry.

The evidence of the horrors, the public outrage at the gross environmental damage that was wrought on Macquarie Harbour and the World Heritage Area and the precarity of the existence of maugean skate by salmon farming is evidence that the salmon industry plan of five years ago has utterly failed to fix these. Instead of gaining the confidence of the community, it has shattered whatever social licence the salmon industry may have had.

The 2018 Marine Farming Development Process that followed immediately after that salmon plan for Storm Bay was the most corrupted process coastal communities have ever seen. They were utterly gobsmacked. Their confidence was lost. For many people, it broke the trust that they had in Tasmania's institutions, in the agencies that were meant to be there. It started to bring people's attention to the failures of the EPA to stand up against the industry.

Since then we have seen a doubling down of the industry in more intensive farming in Brabazon Point, Tinderbox, Long Bay, off Bruny Island. The moratorium in place has not stopped the industry from continuing to expand with biomass. We have had marine water tipping points and the biodiversity has fallen off a cliff in many of the estuarine areas around the state.

Richard Flannigan's 2021 book, Toxic, was an ode to the grief and sadness of coastal communities witnessing the loss of biodiversity in marine waters, and it was a call to defiance and to collective action against the might of the salmon industry.

The enormous fin fish farming inquiry from the Legislative Council - a report with hundreds of pages - represents the heart and soul of Tasmanians who made representations. The recommendations from the community were very clear: there has to be information available to the public, when it is not currently. There has to be an EPA that is not directed by the State Policies and Projects Act 1993, and by the government policies of the day. There has to be statewide monitoring of water quality - and so many other things that this enormous inquiry found.

All this time we have been waiting for the salmon industry growth plan - and meanwhile, while it is coming, we have had two enormous companies storm into Tasmania. The takeover of Huon Aquaculture last year in November by the JBS meat giant - which is now the Batista brothers and their company JBS, the world's biggest producers of our protein. They are reported to be the worst company the United States EPA has ever had to deal with. They are responsible for gross workplace harms and widespread illegal deforestation. The JBS company is a family empire built on corruption and bribery and it has fuelled the expansion of JBS around the world, including in Tasmania.

Then there is Cooke - which as we know has just taken over from Tassal. That company in 2017 caused a whole Washington State farm to collapse. It was fined enormous amounts by the US government. It was regarded by a government official as showing complete disregard and recklessly putting the state's aquatic ecosystem at risk. It was charged with a banned pesticide and fined for overstocking farms. We can go on.

I want to come to the report that we have here. It is much waited for and what we have is an insult to communities. It is a 17-page pamphlet. It has a gross absence of detail about the things people care about. There is a 20-page work plan for the community to comment on, and I encourage people to have their say. What good that will do? We will have to see - the Government has a history of failing to take on board coastal communities.

What we know from the cosy corporate dinner that happened with the Premier and the JBS and Cooke CEOs is that they gave money to the Liberal Party - $4400, because you can buy politicians cheap in Tasmania. In Brazil, they spend $150 million on bribing Brazilian officials and politicians. They were found guilty, they were charged and sentenced, and went to jail. That is what happens in Brazil. In Tasmania you get to have dinner and you get to say what you want in your salmon industry growth plan.

We do not buy it. We will be fighting with communities all the way for their marine waters.