Huon Aquaculture appears to have avoided an embarrassing full public airing on charges that it has polluted the state’s waterways.

A planned trial on eight counts of breaching environmental regulations, some dating back more than four years, failed to go ahead in the Hobart Magistrates Court this morning.

The court had set aside up to six days to hear the charges before Deputy Chief Magistrate, M. F. Daly.

Court officials said they had been notified yesterday that ‘an agreement’ had been reached between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Huon Aquaculture and that the matter might not now proceed to trial. The matter is listed again for next Tuesday.

In December last year, Mr Daly told counsel for Huon Aquaculture that a request to delay the trial had been firmly rebuffed‘.

The charges include two counts of causing material harm by polluting the environment, five counts of contravening environmental protection notices and one of discharging oil or oily waste from a ship. Some of the charges relate to incidents as long ago as August 2015 while the most recent alleged offence occurred in May, 2018.

A lawyer familiar with environmental law said they believed this was the first major prosecution of an industrial fish farming company in Tasmania and that such prosecutions were notoriously difficult to press.

If convicted of the charges, Huon Aquaculture could face fines of up to $420,000 on each of the two charges of causing harm to the environment and up to $168,000 on each of five charges of contravening environmental protection notices. A company convicted of discharging oil into state waters can be fined up to $1.5 million.

The EPA was approached for details of the alleged incidents and what agreement has been reached with Huon Aquaculture but declined to comment as the matter was ‘still before the court’.

Charge details

Cause Material environment harm by polluting the environment at Port Huon on or about Jan 1, 2018 (Sec. 51(i) Environmental Management & Protection Act)

Cause Material environment harm by polluting the environment at Port Huon on or about May 8, 2018 (Sec. 51(i) Environmental Management & Protection Act)

Contravene conditions of an environmental protection notice at Port Huon on or about August 17, 2015 (Sec. 43(iii) Environmental Management & Protection Act)

Contravene conditions of an environmental protection notice at Port Huon on or about August 17, 2015 (Sec. 43(iii) Environmental Management & Protection Act)

Contravene conditions of an environmental protection notice at Port Huon on or about May 8, 2018 (Sec. 43(iii) Environmental Management & Protection Act)

Contravene conditions of an environmental protection notice at Port Huon on or about April 12, 2018 (Sec. 43(iii) Environmental Management & Protection Act)

Contravene conditions of an environmental protection notice at Port Huon on or about the period January 1, 2018 to February 28, 2018 (Sec. 43(iii) Environmental Management & Protection Act)

Discharge of oil or an oily mixture from a ship into state waters (Huon River estuary) about the period October 25, 2017 to October 26, 2017. (Sec 8(1) of Pollution of Waters by Oil and Noxious Substances Act 1987)


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