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All parties tick salmon rules

Edition 188_Seal

New laws to police Tasmania’s salmon industry were approved by all parties in the Lower House of Parliament in September.

The legislation, which was also approved by the Upper House, provides for:

  • The permanent and formal transfer of powers over day-to-day environmental regulation from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). This has happened in the past through a delegation of powers;
  • Consolidating the environmental regulation of inland and marine finfish farming, including hatcheries, into one system overseen by the EPA;
  • Providing the statutorily independent Director of the EPA with a clear legislated role for on-going environmental regulation. This will require companies to apply for new environmental licences.
  • The declaration of exclusion zones for finfish marine farming, the first of which will be in the greater Mercury Passage, between Maria Island and the Tasmanian mainland.

The Tasmanian Greens unsuccessfully tabled eight amendments to the Bill before voting for it to pass.

Environment Tasmania’s Laura Kelly rounded on her elected allies, telling the media that she would have rejected the "flawed" legislation.

Meanwhile, the Government has banned the relocation of seals that break into salmon cages following complaints from the fishing industry in the north of the State.

Some fishers claimed the practise was destroying their livelihoods.

The 15-year-long practice of catching troublesome seals in the south-east and trucking them to beaches on Bass Strait will be outlawed by Christmas.

Tassal is the only company affected, as Huon Aquaculture has progressively introduced reinforced seal-proof cages in its south-east operations and Petuna only farms, at present, in Macquarie Harbour.

About 2,000 seals have been relocated in 2017.

It will still be legal to capture offending seals, but they will have to be released locally.

The largest salmon producers, Tassal and Huon Aquaculture, have each reported record profits in 2016–17, a year in which their chief executives fell out publicly and Tassal was under regular media attack.

Huon Aquaculture launched court action against Tassal and the EPA over environmental issues in Macquarie Harbour.

However, the two businesses generated a total of just over $100 million in profit during a tumultuous year.

Huon Aquaculture reported a $42.2 million profit to the Australian Securities Exchange, up from $3.4 million the previous year.

Huon’s operating profit rose 555 per cent from $4.4 million to $28.8 million.

Tassal, the State’s largest producer, recorded a $58.1 million profit for 2016–17.

The Minister for Primary Industries, Jeremy Rockliff, said: “The strong financial performances by Tasmanian salmon producers shows the growth potential of the industry, which is why we have released a draft sustainable industry growth plan for the salmon industry, which looks at all aspects of the industry, future planning and stronger regulations to ensure its long-term sustainability.”

So politicised has the industry become, The Mercury asked UTAS Political Scientist, Richard Eccleston, to comment on the company results.

“It demonstrates aquaculture and salmon farming, clearly, has got a future and can deliver value to the Tasmanian economy, like a lot of other high-end agriculture, in a way that other industries perhaps can’t,” Dr Eccleston said.

“It highlights the fact that it’s so important that not only do we need to ensure that the industry is environmentally sustainable, but that it’s socially sustainable as well.”

The State’s third major salmon producer, Petuna, has appointed a new CEO, Ruben Alvarez.

Mr Alvarez was formerly the Chief Operating Officer of New Zealand King Salmon.

Image courtesy of the ABC

3 October 2017, Edition 188

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