The Tasmania Government’s draft environmental standards for finfish farming would weaken already inadequate environmental standards and put Tasmania’s prized coastal waters and marine wildlife at greater risk.
Marine scientists, policy specialists and the Environmental Defenders Office are all urging the government to discard the draft standards, go back to the drawing board.
Public submissions on the government’s draft Environmental Standards for Tasmanian Marine Finfish Farming closed on Tuesday (March 21).
EDO Managing Lawyer (Tasmania) Claire Bookless said: “The Environmental Standard will be one of the key regulatory tools to manage the environmental impacts of marine finfish farms into the future. The draft standards are unclear, fall below international best practice, and do not appear to be based on the best available science.
“They are a weaker set of environmental rules than currently apply and are a diminished version of what was promised by the government last year. This is unacceptable.
“We are calling on the Tasmanian Government to go back to the drawing board in the development of the Environmental Standards. This time they need to properly engage by not just listening to the industry but to all the lutruwita/Tasmanian community affected by this expanding industry and who care about the health of our waterways”.
Christine Coughanowr, member of Tasmanian Independent Science Council said: “The draft standards appear to provide less environmental protection and less clarity than the existing Environmental Licence conditions. They significantly expand the allowable footprint of impact, devolve responsibility for critical aspects of monitoring and compliance to industry, and fail to require regular, public reporting by the EPA and the salmon industry.”
Louise Cherrie, former member of the Marine Farming Review Panel and EPA Board, said: “The draft Environmental Standards are grossly inadequate. They lack technical detail and trigger limits, perpetuate the existing over-reliance on visual indicators, and default to EPA Director discretion rather than providing certainty in key areas. We need standards that hold operators equally accountable to high standards of environmental protection. The draft Environmental Standard are a backward step that continues to allow open pen farming to be the only industry in Tasmania permitted to discharge their wastes untreated into our marine environment.”
EDO SUBMISSION ON THE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS
ABOUT TASMANIAN INDEPENDENT SCIENCE COUNCIL
The Tasmanian Independent Science Council is dedicated to science-based policy reform to ensure the long-term health of Tasmania’s environment. The Council includes scientists and professionals who provide independent, non-government advice, focusing on policy reforms of significant State interest. We seek to inform public debate and influence legislative reform to improve outcomes for terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems.
ABOUT CHRISTINE COUGHANOWR
Christine Coughanowr is an independent scientist with over 35 years’ experience in water quality management. She came to Tasmania 27 years ago, fell in love with the Derwent, and set up the award-winning Derwent Estuary Program partnership. She retired from the DEP in 2018 to pursue other interests, which include consulting and providing science advice to conservation and community groups. Christine has also worked internationally as a water resources consultant, and is a Churchill Fellow. She has degrees in geology (BSc Duke University) and estuarine geology (MSc University of Delaware).
ABOUT LOUISE CHERRIE
Louise Cherrie is a specialist in environmental management and the principal of Cherrie Consulting. She was a Tasmanian EPA Board member and was a member of the Tasmanian Marine Farming Planning Review Panel until she resigned in 2018 during the Panel’s assessment of the expansion of the salmon industry in Storm Bay.
 The Working Group’s recommendations are contained in a draft of the Review of Tasmanian and International Regulatory Requirements for Salmonid Aquaculture (December 2019) disclosed by the EPA to EDO on 14 March 2023 under RTI 083, available here: https://epa.tas.gov.au/about-the-epa/right-to-information/rti-disclosure-log
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