Bid to halt fish farms scup­pered

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWSFRONT - JES­SICA HOWARD

THE State Gov­ern­ment has moved quickly to rule out a mora­to­rium on fish farms as com­mu­nity protests over Tas­sal’s plans in Oke­hamp­ton Bay con­tinue.

Greens leader Cassy O’Con­nor said yes­ter­day she would move for a mora­to­rium on fish farm ex­pan­sion in a bid to en­sure the in­dus­try’s rapid growth “doesn’t fur­ther de­grade the marine en­vi­ron­ment”.

“A mora­to­rium on fish farm ex­pan­sion makes sense on every level — it would al­low the com­mu­nity to have a say, and be heard, and it would move the in­dus­try faster to­wards gen­uine world’s best prac­tice,” Ms O’Con­nor said.

How­ever, Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Wa­ter Min­is­ter Jeremy Rock­liff quickly ruled out the move.

“The Gov­ern­ment will not be mov­ing to place a mora­to­rium on fish farms — to do so would cost jobs,” Mr Rock­liff said.

“In­stead, we have re­leased a sus­tain­able salmon growth plan for pub­lic feed­back and we have moved to pre­vent fur­ther fish farm ex­pan­sion on the east coast of Tas­ma­nia.

“The Oke­hamp­ton fish farm is a pre-ex­ist­ing lease and will op­er­ate at the high­est pos­si­ble en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards.”

Deputy Op­po­si­tion Leader Michelle O’Byrne said with strong, in­de­pen­dent mon­i­tor­ing, the ex­pan­sion of the salmon in­dus­try could be done sus­tain­ably.

An­other com­mu­nity protest at Oke­hamp­ton Bay yes­ter­day saw about 50 ves­sels join in a flotilla protest against the salmon gi­ant’s new farm.

Or­gan­ised by anti-East Coast fish farm­ing group Marine Pro­tec­tion Tas­ma­nia, OkeFloat at­tracted pro­test­ers from across the stat­es­tate.

Or­gan­iser Wil­helmina Rea said par­tic­i­pants were “shocked” by the scale of the in­fra­struc­ture al­ready in place for the new farm.

Sea Shep­herd Aus­tralia also came out in sup­port of the protest and raised con­cerns about any po­ten­tial im­pact on south­ern right whales in the area.

A Tas­sal spokesman said the com­pany re­spected peo­ple’s right to “peace­fully voice their opin­ions. Oke-

hamp­ton Bay has been through a com­pre­hen­sive en­vi­ron­men­tal ap­provals process from a lo­cal, state and na­tional in­de­pen­dent gov­er­nance per­spec­tive”, he said.

“Our pri­or­ity is to main­tain com­pli­ance with strin­gent en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­to­cols.”

Today En­vi­ron­ment Tas­ma­nia will join a num­ber of com­mu­nity and tourism groups in the Tas­ma­nian Plan­ning Com­mis­sion to chal­lenge Tas­sal’s Oke­hamp­ton Bay move.

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