Tasmania's salmon farming companies have been hit with 11 fines for marine debris found outside lease areas since the state government's zero-tolerance policy was introduced, reigniting calls for harsher penalties for the growing industry.
New data released under right to information laws shows salmon companies received the fines on four occasions last year, after the policy was introduced as part of a sustainable growth plan for the industry in December 2017. The associated financial penalties totaled $2,445.
Seven fines have been issued so far this year, along with eight infringement notices for minor breaches and one demerit point allocation. Shellfish companies also feature in the data, though at a smaller scale - receiving three fines, four infringements and one demerit.
No fines, infringements, or demerits were issued to any marine farming body between 2014 and 2016. Across both sectors, a total of $19,306 in penalties have been handed out since 2017.
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With the salmon industry aiming for a growth target of $2 billion by 2030 under the plan, debris has been raised as both a boating safety issue and environmental concern.
A spokesperson for the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment said any increase in the number of penalties was a direct result of the zero-tolerance policy.
But Tasmanian Greens environment spokesperson Rosalie Woodruff disputed this, saying the "average penalties of $644" showed there were "no effective deterrents" on debris.
The "hazard" would continue unless fines and enforcement officer numbers were boosted, as major companies Huon and Tassal turned over $227 million in profit in the past two years, Ms Woodruff said.
Huon and Tassal were contacted for comment.
According to a government spokesperson, two additional compliance staff have been employed. The spokesperson said while the 11 fines were "disappointing", the government would continue to work with the industry to uphold standards.
A spokesperson for the TSGA said the industry supported enforcement and was committed to operating within government requirements and company guidelines "at all times". The companies also have programs to "stop debris at the source" and clean coastlines.
A Legislative Council committee inquiry into regulation of the sector was announced earlier this month.
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