Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens’ Environment spokesperson
Senator Peter Whish-Wilson | Greens’ Healthy Oceans spokesperson
Dr Woodruff said:
“Today’s announcement by the Director of the EPA that 1.35 million fish died in Macquarie Harbour’s fish pens last summer is shocking. It confirms the widespread dysfunction and inability of our regulatory system to protect the marine environment.
“There is nothing accidental about more than a million fish deaths in one confined marine area. It is symptomatic of a failure to listen to scientists, climate predictions, and to regulate for the long-term.
“It also reveals a cover up so far unprecedented in the history of salmon farming in Tasmania. Despite repeated calls from the Greens and environment groups late last year to confirm reports of hundreds of thousands of salmon mortalities in Macquarie Harbour, the Liberals withheld this evidence until 3 months after the state election.
“The Minister for Primary Industries, Sarah Courtney, needs to release the information showing the breakdown of mortality figures, and cause, by company, and the effects on the ecology of the Harbour. We need to know the full story.
“Government has imposed no punishment for failing to heed management directives in Macquarie Harbour. While evidence of a continually degrading marine environment mounts, with the impact on World Heritage values unstudied or unpublished, industry has been allowed to continue effectively self-regulated over the last two years.
“After the death of 1.35 million salmon, the only rational response is for the EPA to direct the salmon companies to exit Macquarie Harbour. It’s past time we remove the suffocating effect of farming practices and their super-nutrients on this slow moving and ancient ecosystem.
“The announcement today adds yet more evidence to the widespread call from communities and environment group have a moratorium on the expansion of salmon farming across Tasmania, including new areas in Storm Bay and the North West. To prevent a Macquarie Harbour-type disaster elsewhere, the regulations, science underpinnings, and community appeal processes need a complete revision.”
Senator Whish-Wilson said:
“This government’s record of regulation of the salmon industry has been a woeful tale of mismanagement, bad decisions, cover-ups, lies and deceit.
“Three years ago I initiated a Senate inquiry that shone a light on all the atrocious cover-ups and mismanagement, and we got accusations that the Inquiry was a ‘witch hunt’ and a ‘show trial.’
“In hindsight it was a significant missed opportunity for the government to lift its game, and avoid the tragic deaths of millions of fish and the trashing of a World Heritage waterway.
“The Greens were the only ones who said that the industry regulation was in crisis while both Labor and Liberal called it ‘world’s best practice.’
“The failure to properly regulate this industry is a source of national shame, a blight on Tasmania’s reputation and everyone who works in this industry, and the responsibility rests entirely with successive Liberal and Labor governments.
“Sadly Tasmania has a long and predictable history of corporate greed trashing the place, with weak and compliant governments watching meekly from the sidelines.”
Dr Woodruff: Alice Giblin, 0429 402 283
Senator Whish-Wilson: Tim Beshara, 0409 164 603