*Pic: Flickr, Fish farming in Macquarie Harbour.
Huon Aquaculture’s installation of salmon pens in Norfolk Bay, without public consultation or independent assessment of social and marine impacts, has angered and frustrated Southern Beaches and Tasman Peninsula residents.
The Norfolk Bay lease has been approved as a salmon harvesting site by the EPA today. The impacts on marine species in the area, such as the endangered red handfish, are unknown, and the community has never been given a say about this development.
Under the Liberals’ draft ‘Environmental Licence Regulations for Fish Farms’, the Director of the EPA should be required to refer Huon Aquaculture’s licence application to the EPA Board for a proper assessment – involving a public consultation and the right to appeal a decision. That has not occurred.
Not only has the Norfolk Bay lease been dormant for 15 years and never held finfish, Huon Aquaculture’s proposed salmon farming operations on the site of endangered red handfish have been referred to the Federal Environment Minister, under the EPBC Act, by Environment Tasmania.
Locals, fishermen, tourism operators, property owners, and sailors are deeply concerned about the impact of salmon farming on the delicate sea grass meadows, home to baby sharks, flathead and the critically endangered red handfish.
In the absence of any public consultation by industry or government, the community will be holding their own public meetings at Dodges Ferry and Koonya next weekend to record concerns and unanswered questions.
With Huon’s $35.4 million profit last year, and recent announcement it has the expanded capacity it needs for “continued sustainable growth”, Norfolk Bay residents are right to wonder if the Liberal Government’s fish farm policy is for growth at all costs.
It’s obvious salmon companies have the Liberals’ ear when it comes to salmon farm regulation, not the people of Tasmania.
The Premier, and Primary Industries Minister Sarah Courtney, claim they’re looking into community concerns about the environmental and social fallout from the push to double salmon industry volumes, once again. Tell that to residents of Dodges Ferry, Primrose Sands, Connelly’s Marsh and the Tasman Peninsula, who had no say about the fish pens now sitting in Norfolk Bay.
Tasmania needs a moratorium on all new finfish licences, which is what the community is calling for.
Instead of rushing through the Norfolk Bay licence without consulting locals or independent, scientific assessment, the government needs to stop and listen to the people they’re paid to represent.