Restoring Confidence in the Salmon Industry

Aquaculture is a significant provider of full time jobs in regional Tasmania at a time when we desperately need full time employment.

The Liberal Government has eroded community trust in this important industry by failing to provide leadership. This lack of action has also led to a lack of certainty for the industry.

Labor will strengthen the regulation of the Tasmanian salmon industry and make it more independent.

Growing Tasmanian jobs with a World’s Best Salmon Industry

Labor has a vision for the Tasmanian salmon industry to be recognised as the world’s best environmental and economic performer with overwhelming public support.

To achieve this vision, Labor’s policy will continue to support jobs growth in the salmon industry and allow companies to grow sustainably by improving the regulatory framework within which they operate, while minimising environmental impacts and ensuring the industry is meeting the high expectations Tasmanian’s have of any industry doing business in this state.

Labor will act to provide certainty to the industry, to the community and to markets.

Greater Independence

The EPA needs enhanced resourcing and its decisions need to be made based on independent expert advice to maintain community confidence in the regulation of the salmon industry.

Currently the Marine Farm Planning Review Panel only assesses new leases and amendments to existing leases – it has no ongoing role in monitoring and compliance.

Labor will increase the scope of the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel by creating a new body, the Independent Aquaculture Advisory Panel, tasked with requesting and reviewing monitoring data, assessing compliance and providing independent expert advice to the EPA Director, while continuing to assess new lease proposals previously undertaken by the MFPRP.

The Panel would include two independent aquaculture scientists and an independent chair. The expertise of the panel would include fish farming, biosecurity and fish health.

The Panel will be responsible for regularly benchmarking the Tasmanian salmon industry against world’s best practice to ensure that the rules and regulations governing the industry keep pace with worldwide scientific and technological advancements.

In addition, it will:

  • Conduct public consultation, independent of industry during the assessment process of new leases.
  • Monitor salmon lease compliance using a risk based approach. New leases and leases with greater risk profiles will be subject to the greatest scrutiny.
  • Develop a robust biosecurity management plan for the salmon industry within 12 months.
  • Review and recommend standards for environmental performance, wildlife management, water temperature, depth, stocking densities and proximity to neighbouring leases.
  • Request additional monitoring if deemed appropriate.

The results of the above reviews should be peer reviewed and made publicly available prior to the next salmon industry symposium.

The resources of the EPA must be bolstered to allow them to adequately regulate the salmon industry

Animal health, biosecurity and environmental management should be better integrated. Formal links should be established between the Chief Veterinary Officer, Biosecurity Tasmania and the EPA for closer collaboration in decision making.

EPA Director

The EPA Director will be required to:

  • Consider the recommendations of the Independent Aquaculture Advisory Panel when making decisions
  • Publicly release individual lease monitoring data and EPA decisions including decision rationale (where there are no commercial in confidence considerations).
  • The EPA director will also have the power to impose environmental bonds where appropriate.

Seals

Finfish farms would be required to demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable steps to minimise interactions with seals by:

  • Locating pens in areas where there are few seal interactions.
  • Installing pens that minimise seal interactions in prescribed areas by July 2019.
  • Labor will commission a study into seal movements and eating habits to better understand their impact on commercial fish farms and the wild fishery.

Other Measures

Other measures previously announced include:

  • Use remote sensor technology to collect real time environmental data that can be provided to the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) for reporting to the IAAP each quarter.
  • The Regulator to consider net depth and tonnes of fish per farmed hectare when determining fishing density.
  • The frequency of surveys of the seabed should increase to quarterly for each new ease for the first year and twice a year for every year thereafter. This will allow the Regulator to act more swiftly in the event of non-compliance.

Labor will provide opportunities for new investment to be made using technology and innovation that will ensure Tasmania’s salmon industry maintains competitiveness in the market and meets environmental standards.

Labor proposes that maximum stocking densities be reviewed and assessed based on an individual lease, rather than a body of water. This will ensure greater accountability and compliance with environmental conditions for each individual lease.

Macquarie Harbour

Labor believes there is a future for salmon farming in Macquarie Harbour that supports jobs and economic activity on the West Coast.

The region has experienced environmental and biosecurity challenges that require careful management.

Labor will commission a full independent review of Macquarie Harbour in order to develop a long term, evidenced-based plan for management of the harbour.

Okehampton Bay

Labor has always respected the independent science around fish farming and we accept the Marine Farm Planning Review Panel’s decision on Okehampton Bay.

However, in recognition of growing community interest in the regulation of the salmon industry, we believe the Okehampton lease should be subject to the most stringent environmental regulations and oversight. Using our proposed risk based approach, the intensity of monitoring and review of the Okehampton lease would only be reduced to levels comparative to established leases once continued compliance can be demonstrated.

New Salmon Waters

Tasmania’s three salmon companies have put forward proposals for salmon farming to expand their operations in Storm Bay. Assessment of Storm Bay is well advanced and Labor will respect the process currently underway. We will ensure that a final decision is based on the best advice and evidence, consistent with the principles of this policy.

Labor will not jeopardise the future of the salmon industry by making decisions that are not consistent with world’s best practice.

Labor will require a biosecurity plan for Storm Bay to be developed to manage environment and fish health.

Proposals in the far North West and King Island are at very preliminary stages. Labor is committed to assessing each new proposal on its merits based on a transparent and independent process and consistent with our vision for the industry. Consultation from the early stages is essential in order to maintain public confidence in new proposals.

Both the industry and the regulator have a role in providing the public with information about new proposals. This consultation should also detail the environmental and regulatory standards to be applied.