Finfish Farming Environmental Regulation Bill debated in Tasmanian Parliament

The release of draft finfish farming legislation did not allow for adequate community consultation on the “unrestrained growth” of the industry, Rosalie Woodruff says.

The call from the Greens marine environment spokesperson came as debate over salmon farming regulation continued in Parliament on Tuesday.

But Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the community has “ample opportunity” to provide its feedback and the government had been open around the growth of the industry. 

The proposed Finfish Farming Environmental Regulation Bill transfers the day-to-day environmental regulation of the industry to the Environment Protection Authority.

It also aims to give the EPA director a statutory role in the regulation of the industry and has declared finfish marine farming exclusion zones.

Dr Woodruff proposed several amendments to the bill and said the regulation of the industry had already led to community concern. 

“There are many things this bill will not do … it won’t provide an opportunity to address the social impacts of the massive doubling of the salmon industry,” she said. 

“It won’t have any impact on the failure to enforce the egregious breaches that have occurred. 

“There have been no substantial penalties applied to the companies who have substantially breached their licenses so far.” 

Lyons Liberal MHA Mark Shelton told Parliament the industry supported local communities whose economies relied on salmon farming, but it needed to grow at a sustainable rate. 

“Aquaculture is something that can create wealth … there is an international market there with our clean green image that we can access and produce significant amounts of income for the state,” Mr Shelton said. 

“It’s important that we don’t shut the place down.” 

Opposition primary industries spokesperson Shane Broad called for a number of amendments, including a quarterly review of monitoring data and consideration of net depth and tonnes of fish per farmed hectare when determining fish density. 

“We’d like to see the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel be expanded to include relevant scientific experience and expertise in environmental management, fish health and biosecurity,” he said. 

“The community needs to have confidence that the industry is strongly regulated and sustainable.” 

Mr Rockliff said Dr Broad’s proposed amendments were not needed as they were addressed in the legislation.