The Liberals have backed in the seafood sector with a $26.1 million funding commitment, including a promise to boost resources for the independent Environment Protection Authority.
But Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff ruled out a moratorium on fish farm expansion, which provoked condemnation from the Greens.
“Our goal is to ensure the long-term future of this sector, which is worth about $911 million to Tasmania, and supports thousands of jobs, mostly in regional Tasmania,” Mr Rockliff said.
“We already believe there are effective fisheries and marine farming planning and management systems in place.”
The Liberals’ seafood package will implement a number of measures to support the industry, including:
- An extension of the East Coast Rock Lobster Translocation Program, which assists with the rebuilding of rock lobster stocks on the East Coast;
- The establishment of an Abalone Industry Reinvestment Fund to help rebuild stock and target sea urchin populations;
- The identification of strategies to educate consumers about where their seafood originates from;
- A $400,000 partnership with the oyster and shellfish industry to improve the real-time monitoring sensor network “which is a vital initiative to protect oyster and shellfish biosecurity and ensure continued market access”; and
- A $14 million funding increase over five years for the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies to undertake research pertaining to the fishing industry.
Mr Rockliff said the Liberals would adopt a “zero tolerance approach to marine farm debris”.
In 2016, the state’s salmon industry was rocked by the discovery of non-compliance at fish farm leases at Macquarie Harbour, igniting fierce community debate about the environmental impacts of the industry.
Greens marine environment spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff said the only way to protect regional jobs was to protect the marine environment.
“What we’ve got from the Liberals’ policy is a stitched up deal to try to paper over the lack of independence in marine developments and the lack of a real voice for communities in the EPA process,” Dr Woodruff said.
“Have [the Liberals] not listened to the science? Have they not been listening to the commercial fishing industry? Do they not understand what’s happening on the East Coast of Tasmania?
“There has to be a moratorium on fish farming in Tasmania.”
Labor primary industries spokesman Shane Broad said the Liberals were “undermining confidence in the [aquaculture] industry”.
“The Liberals’ salmon monitoring unit is a poor attempt to copy Labor’s comprehensive policy,” Dr Broad said.
“It lacks any detail and does not include even a hint of the independence that the community has been asking for.”