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 of Tasmanians.
Labor will act to provide certainty to the industry, to the community and to markets.
What’s the issue?
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.
Who’s Labor talking to?
Labor has developed policy proposals in consultation with salmon producers and their suppliers, external experts and community groups concerned about the expansion of salmon farming. We are determined to get the balance right by working with all sides of the salmon farming debate.
What will Labor do?
The Environmental Protection Authority needs more resources 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 also 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 previously announced include:
- Use of 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 Independent Aquaculture Advisory Panel 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 lease 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 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.