Ms WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRIES and WATER, Mr ROCKLIFF
Yesterday a broad coalition of people gathered outside this House to condemn your Government's salmon industry growth plan. They were representatives of regional communities, commercial fishing, recreational fishing, tourism and conservation sectors, the Greens, and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party. They were angry that you have put no-grow zones in areas where it is not viable to grow salmon anyway. The salmon industry already has interests such as Okehampton Bay, Storm Bay, Port Arthur and all around Bruny Island and this plan will not allow for any community consultation or right of appeal for those areas. These groups know it is just an attempt to shut up the community before an election, but the east coast community and those other stakeholders are not buying your unsustainable plan. They want strong independent oversight, full transparency and real consultation about our marine environment. Will you listen to the community and implement a moratorium on expansions to allow an independent scientific assessment and full community consultation about impacts?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. In respect to a moratorium, the answer is no, I and this Government will not. Already we have shown very strong leadership with the salmon industry and the significant improvements along the way, culminating in the growth plan, which is still out for consultation. It is a draft plan so you can comment until Friday 8 September. The improvements include increasing independence of regulations through handing responsibility to the Environment Protection Authority - which you called for, I think, at some stage -
Ms Woodruff - Did you speak to the people on the north-west coast?
Mr ROCKLIFF - increasing penalties for breaches and reintroducing demerit points in the Marine Farming Planning Amendment Act 2016. Why are you against no grow zones? That is the question. You do not support no grow zones. The Greens. Amazing.
Greens members interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. Can we bring it back through the Chair?
Mr ROCKLIFF - The development of the Finfish Farming Environmental Regulation Bill 2017 will formalise the EPA's role, will further strengthen regulations with the introduction of a new environmental licence to farm finfish and the creation of finfish farming marine exclusion zones, 'no grow' zones, the first of which we announced in the Mercury Passage.
We have now released a draft sustainable industry growth plan for public comment. The draft plan includes the Government's vision for the industry and actions to achieve that vision. It includes a map of Tasmania that does identify grow zones and also salmon farm exclusion areas or no grow zones so that Tasmanians will have certainty about future farming locations. The plan extends a no grow zone from the bottom of the Tasman Peninsula up the entire east coast of Tasmania and along the majority of the north coast. Other than a small number of pre-existing leases the entire east coast of Tasmania will be salmon farm-free. This should reassure Tasmanians that the special nature of Tasmania's east coast will not be changed by finfish farm expansion.
Further, the plan includes additional resourcing to the EPA for a new finfish monitoring and compliance unit within the EPA, zero tolerance to marine debris, and the new competitive tender process for access to new areas to farm. Just in those two areas the zero tolerance to marine farm debris demonstrates that the Government has been listening to the community.
The penalty regime for breaches of the Marine Farm Planning Act 1995 was upgraded last year to better reflect the scale of the industry. The maximum possible fine for a serious breach of environmental management controls can now include a special penalty calculated proportionate to the financial advantage that was obtained. From September 2016 demerit points were reintroduced for infringement notices which for serial breaches could ultimately see a marine farming licence suspended for five years and the holder permanently barred from holding a licence or marine farm lease.
I look forward to debating the Finfish Farming Environmental Regulation Bill but also look forward to the public comments on the draft plan, which we released last Thursday. On Friday I was with Huon Aquaculture on the east coast of South Bruny Island, five kilometres offshore. I was able to clearly see what oceanic actually meant and it is clearly oceanic five or six kilometres out off South Bruny Island or the east coast of South Bruny Island.
In response to your question on moratoriums, no, but I do welcome yourself, all the people who were outside with you yesterday to have input into the draft plan. They have until 8 September to provide some public comment, and I welcome it.