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Seal Death on Bruny Island

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Tags: Fish Farms, Seals

Seal Adjournment 12 September 2019


Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Deputy Speaker, I draw the House's attention to a photo which has been sent to the minister. It is a photo of a dead seal that was taken last Saturday afternoon at Dennes Point.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - I remind the member that props are not allowed to be used in parliament.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Let the Hansard record that it is a photo of a whole dead seal lying on the sand that was taken at Dennes Point beach on North Bruny last Saturday afternoon. This seal had been there for a number of weeks. We have been contacted several times by different people who have also taken photos of this seal. That beach is directly opposite two fish farming operations. We know that members of the public have reported that dead seal and sent photos of it to Parks and Wildlife - at least two people have done that - but it is clearly still there, which is why I am raising this as an issue. This seal should have been removed and an autopsy into the conditions of death ought to have been undertaken.

So what is going on here? Why has there been absolutely no action on this dead seal? There are reasons it is important to do autopsies on seals near fish farms because we know too well that the operations of fish farms have killed unknown numbers but probably thousands of seals, as well as forced relocations of seals from the south to the north of the state, as well as seals having suffered 39 000 crackers exploded near their heads, some of them causing deafness and blindness, over a three-year period, as reported by the ABC last year.

Seals have been exposed to all manner of different attempts to deter them from eating fish. What is this Government doing to make sure that the operations of fish farm workers, as well as keeping them safe, is ensuring the welfare of the seals? There are ways of deterring seals from fish farm operations that do not harm seals and do not put them into situations where they are caged with other male seals, sometimes for days or weeks, often left to starve as a form of punishment. We have had numbers of unverified reports alleging large numbers of seals penned. I have had people contact me in desperation, someone sent me a video and I forwarded that to Parks last year and no action was taken. It is always radio silence when it comes to seals. So, what is going on? I asked the minister last week why I have not had briefings on this issue and why we are refused any information about seals. There is a cone of silence as to how fish farm employees are managing seals in their operations.

All animal protections in Tasmania are effectively cancelled when they collide in any sense at all with the business interests of mining companies, fish farm companies, forestry industry work and, it seems, even for agricultural landowners. Exceptions are created, animal protections are put out of sight, out of mind, monitoring, if it is done at all, is done by the companies, which put their own interests first. This is a totally outrageous situation. I call on the minister and I will write to him to find out why there has been no autopsy of this seal and demand that we are given some information, on behalf of Tasmanian's who are concerned about animal welfare.