Greens Senator for Tasmania, Peter Whish-Wilson, is calling on the Federal Environment Minister to call in the proposed Norfolk Bay fish farm move.
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “These handfish are some of the most rare and unique species on the planet. The red handfish and the spotted handfish are both critically endangered. Where they exist, they essentially occupy a few hundred square metres of seafloor and rarely move. Each sub-population is isolated from the others.
“These species are incredibly exposed to fish farm impacts. They camouflage themselves among sea squirts and lay their eggs on them. These sea squirts are incredibly sensitive to pollution and sedimentation.
“The existence of handfish should be a total redline to any fish farm proposals nearby and all of the waters in the area must be thoroughly surveyed for new populations.
“Any proposal that has the slightest chance of impacting on the handfish populations, including this Norfolk Bay proposal, should be immediately referred by the proponent or called in by the Minister for full assessment. Once assessed I can’t see how such a move could possibly be allowed.
“Any action would be completely inconsistent with the recovery plan. Beyond the project referral, the Environment Minister should immediately begin a process to declare all known habitats of all handfish species as critical habitat under the EPBC Act," he concluded.