Environment Tasmania says more still needs to be done to protect the state’s finfish industry, despite the release of new draft legislation.
On Sunday, Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff released the draft Finfish Farming Environmental Regulation Bill, which includes handing control of the day-to-day regulation of the industry to the Environmental Protection Authority.
The bill also sets out to require salmon farms to have an environmental licence and would introduce powers for the declaration of finfish marine farming exclusion zones.
Mr Rockliff said the legislation would help ensure the sustainable growth of the industry, but Environment Tasmania strategy director Laura Kelly said it did not include many new ideas.
“Long overdue is an open and transparent planning process that involves genuine consultation with each of the stakeholder groups affected,” Ms Kelly said.
“If you don’t get the balance right, it hurts the industry and the environment.
“I think the political landscape is changing because people are so frustrated … so this issue is going to have to be resolved because the community anger is not going away.”
Greens marine environment spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff said if environmental groups were not able to comment on the impact of amendments, it could cause concern within the community.
“This Draft Bill will not address the most contentious issue in the salmon farm industry, which is fish farm expansions,” Dr Woodruff said.
“Unless the Liberals move the regulation of the industry into the Land Use and Planning Approvals Act, along with other farming operations, they cannot expect to gain community or consumer confidence.
“The Tasmanian brand depends on a strong and authentic regulatory process, not more window-dressing.”
On Monday, Mr Rockliff said response to the draft legislation had so far been “generally positive”, and said more resources would be introduced to regulate the industry.
“It enforces stronger legislation when it comes to our salmon farms – the industry want that, the community want that,” he said.
“The EPA has more staff now and will so as a result of the legislation, and more broadly the reforms that government is introducing.
“When it comes to the regulation of salmon, it’s a case of continuous improvement.”
The legislation will be introduced into the spring session of Parliament.