The Hodgman Liberal Government is developing a Sustainable Industry Growth Plan for the Salmon Industry, which will be the blue print for the industry’s future growth.
As part of this Plan due to be released later this year, we will be banning the expansion of salmon farming, beyond the existing Okehampton Bay lease, into the Mercury Passage area of the East Coast.
The Tasmanian Government believes that tourism and industry can work together but it is also vital to get the balance right between jobs, the economy, the environment and local amenity, and we want to give the local community certainty that no further licences to farm fin fish in the Mercury Passage area will be considered.
There is a pre-existing zone, licenced to farm salmon in Okehampton Bay, which was approved through the marine farm planning process in 1998.
Due to concerns raised by the local community, the Hodgman Liberal Government requested an additional assessment of the environmental impacts of salmon farming in this zone be undertaken by the independent Marine Farm Planning Review Panel.
The Government supports salmon farming at Okehampton Bay because it will provide economic benefits to the East Coast, and can be managed in an environmentally sustainable manner, as confirmed by the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel in February 2017. Given this assessment, there is significant sovereign risk for the state associated with arbitrarily cancelling an existing lease at Okehampton Bay.
The salmon farm development will be contained within the existing zone, which represents just 1 per percent of the overall Mercury Passage area. Salmon farming operations within it will be strictly monitored by the EPA.
The ban will not apply to approved land-based infrastructure.
The Hodgman Liberal Government will continue to be the strongest supporter of sustainable salmon farming and the 5200 jobs it supports, mostly in regional Tasmania.
This decision to ban any expansion of salmon farming beyond Okehampton Bay into Mercury Passage should reassure East Coast residents that we are listening to community concerns and have the balance right.