*Pic: Sediment beneath salmon pens shaken off kelp, and as the kelp normally is ...
Environment Tasmania, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust and community group Tasmanian Aquaculture Reform Alliance have today urged the Senate Committee conducting the Inquiry into the regulation of the fish farm industry in Tasmania to take immediate action to prevent further environmental and social harm from poorly regulated fish farming operations in Tasmania.
“It is clear that while the salmon farming companies are very effectively selling a story to the market and government so that their operations continue to expand, there is a distinct difference with the reality on the ground,” said Rebecca Hubbard, Marine Coordinator of Environment Tasmania.
“The Senate Inquiry has heard reports from industry and the state government regulator that effectively amount to secrecy and protection of the industry. On the one hand, the Government regulator continues to claim things have improved, whilst on the other hand, water quality data obtained from different studies show environment and fish health continue to experience serious declines.
It seems that even a Senate Inquiry cannot force the Tasmanian Government to end its conflict of interest and come clean on the uncontrolled impacts of the salmon industry in Tasmania,” said Ms Hubbard.
“The Marine Farming Planning Review Panel has repeatedly failed to take into account genuine concerns about pollution, antibiotics, and environmental impacts,” said Jon Bryan of the Tasmanian Conservation Trust.
“Not only are the Planning systems inadequate and ignorant of community concerns, but the Tasmanian Government seal management strategy has resulted in normally protected seals being deliberately killed with Government approval. These Government failures are two of the many planning and protection issues we hope the Senate Committee will consider,” said Mr Bryan.
“Public confidence in the aquaculture industry is failing. This is evidenced by the large number of submissions highlighting issues relating to noise, visual amenity, insufficient monitoring, water quality, human health impacts, and the failure of the industry to initiate consultation and act on expressed public concerns,” said Christine Materia of the Tasmanian Aquaculture Reform Alliance.
“There are several cases of bullying and harassment by Aquaculture employees of the public who have taken a public stance against the industry and a significant number of members of the public who are silenced due to fear of repercussions of speaking out in small communities,” concluded Ms Materia.
“The Senate Inquiry into the regulation of fish farming in Tasmania provides a critical opportunity for the Federal Government to ensure that our unique and beautiful marine environment, which supports so many communities and industries, is being properly looked after for the future.
“However we are deeply concerned that the Government has learnt nothing from this process and is treating it as another opportunity to promote the industry instead of minimising its pollution and impacts on the community,” concluded Ms Hubbard.
Rebecca Hubbard, Environment Tasmania,
Peter McGlone, Tasmanian Conservation Trust,
Christine Materia, Tasmanian Aquaculture Reform Alliance
• Peter Whish-Wilson: Salmon farming inquiry succeeds in shining some light into muddy waters “When I instigated this inquiry I said it was needed to shine some light into muddy waters regarding how the industry is regulated, and I believe we have achieved that. “Without whistle-blowers providing leaked documents we would still be in the dark regarding troubling environmental developments in Macquarie Harbour, and without this inquiry we never would have learned that the state government deliberately lifted a legal cap on salmon production in the same location. “This inquiry has provided a platform for a range of stakeholders to raise legitimate concerns about the impacts of the industry on ecosystems, communities and other businesses.