The Tasmanian Legislative Council kicks off debate on finfish farming

A balance of economic, environmental, and social outcomes needs to be ensured if new salmon farming legislation is to be effective, the upper house has heard. 

The proposed Finfish Farming Environmental Regulation Bill, which aims to transfer the day-to-day environmental regulation of the industry to the Environment Protection Authority, was debated by the Legislative Council on Tuesday.

The government’s draft bill aims to give the EPA director a statutory role in the regulation of the industry and has declared finfish marine farming exclusion zones.

Acting Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council Leonie Hiscutt said the lengthy piece of legislation was a complicated one to put together, but had so far been supported overall. 

“Fundamental to this growth is ensuring that the expansion of the industry is sustainable over the long-term and is compatible with environmental objectives,” Ms Hiscutt said.

Elwick Labor MLC Josh Willie said any new legislation needed to strike a balance between economic and environmental outcomes to ensure the industry was sustainable. 

McIntyre Independent MLC Tania Rattray went on to support the bill.

“We have those competing interests and we certainly have to make sure we consider those, but we also have those obligations to our communities,” Ms Rattray said. 

She said ensuring the process was independent would work to depoliticise the debate and give confidence back to communities. 

Murchison Independent MLC Ruth Forrest said she heard from “old timers” on the North-West who raised concerns over the environmental health of Macquarie Harbour.

“It’s really important that we get the framework right here so we ensure what we do to the environment doesn’t harm it. We can’t afford to be complacent in this area,” Ms Forrest said.

“It is important that when we put in place legislation to look at environmental regulation… that we look at all the long-term implications.”