Independent panel, Greens call for more data on Tassal's Okehampton Bay salmon farm site

Tassal chief executive Mark Ryan
Tassal chief executive Mark Ryan

Tassal’s proposed salmon farm on the East Coast may have been approved, but the fiery conversation it has provoked shows no sign of dying down.

On Thursday, the Marine Farm Planning Review Panel released its report on the suitability of Okehampton Bay for a prospective salmon farm.

While the panel deemed the Okehampton Bay site suitable for salmon farming, it also suggested further environmental surveys of the site be undertaken.

Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff, who commissioned the report, said the panel’s findings were a boon for Tasmanian jobs and industry.

“[The government] values the science,” he said.

“We want this industry to grow, and grow sustainably.”

Mr Rockliff also noted that further data on the site would “give the community confidence” as the industry moves forward.

Tassal chief executive Mark Ryan said his company would cooperate with any upcoming baseline surveys at the Okehampton Bay site.

He hoped a mutual understanding between Tassal and independent researchers could be reached.

“Unless we can come to [an] agreement on the interpretation and the actual data that’s being collected, and where it’s being collected and how, then it’ll be hard for us to get certainty around farming fish there,” Mr Ryan said.

Greens environment spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff said there was not enough transparency around the data already released by the panel.

“Even the Marine Farm [Planning Review] Panel accepted that the community did not have access to the information they needed,” Ms Woodruff said.

Opposition primary industries spokeswoman Rebecca White also said more transparency was required around the industry.

“It is clear that moving forward there needs to be improvement to make the approval of new leases … more consultative and adaptable to future advances in science and marine farming technology,” she said.

On Friday, Mr Rockliff announced the Sustainable Growth Plan for the Tasmanian salmonid industry.

The plan, he said, will “detail the government’s priorities and actions to guide the sustainable growth of the industry”.

Mr Rockliff said he expected the plan would be “finalised” in spring 2017.