Rockliff, Tassal dispute Greens' seal cull claims

'NO CULL': Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff says there is 'no reason' the cessation of seal relocations would lead to a cull, as the Greens have suggested.
'NO CULL': Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff says there is 'no reason' the cessation of seal relocations would lead to a cull, as the Greens have suggested.

Together with the state government, Tassal has rubbished claims from the Greens that the cessation of its seal relocation program could lead to a cull.

On Thursday, Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff announced the government would be putting an end to the program come December.

Tassal is the only major aquaculture company in the state that still engages in seal relocation.

Under the program, so-called rogue seals are moved elsewhere when they cause a nuisance at Tassal’s farm sites.

North-West fishermen have expressed concerns that the volume of seals relocated to the Coast was impacting on their livelihood.

The program’s cessation comes after Liberal Braddon MHA Adam Brooks voiced his opposition to it.

Greens animal welfare spokeswoman Andrea Dawkins said the end of the seal relocation program had the potential to create more problems.

“With the Liberals' new policy to stop relocations, there will be an increased number of seal 'offenders',” she said.

In a statement, Tassal said it had not harmed any seals in its relocation program and “had never, and would never, advocate for a cull”.

Chief executive Mark Ryan said the company had committed to investing $70 million into new ocean sanctuary pens which protect fish from predators like seals.

“It is pleasing that the minister acknowledges his part by accepting a duty of care for the safety of our employees,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Rockliff said there was “no reason” why culling should increase following the cessation of the seal relocation program.

Environment Tasmania “welcomed” the cessation, but demanded Tassal rule out culling protected fur seals.

“It is brutally unfair that Tassal has been dumping seals in its neighbour’s backyard rather than invest[ing] in seal-proofing their pens, but it would be equally unfair to see Tassal given open slather … to euthanize a protected species,” ET spokeswoman Laura Kelly said.

Opposition primary industries spokesman Shane Broad said Mr Rockliff had been “rattled” by Mr Brooks “actively campaigning against him” and had “given in” to his colleague’s “demands”.