The Salmon Plan: a blueprint for sustainable aquaculture in Tasmania

The salmon industry in Tasmania is by far the biggest primary industry in the State, said to support 5,200 jobs and produce an annual revenue of $730 million. On the back of the release of draft Finfish Farming Environmental Regulation Bill 2017 (Finfish Bill) last month, the Tasmanian government has released its draft Sustainable Industry Growth Plan for the Salmon Industry (Salmon Plan) which seeks to provide a blueprint for sustainable aquaculture in Tasmania. Comments on the Salmon Plan can be made until 8 September 2017.

Further legislative amendments proposed

The Salmon Plan addresses all aspects of the industry from hatchery to harvest, research and development, skills and training and future planning. Importantly, it acknowledges the need for fit for purpose environmental regulation to keep up with the rapidly expanding industry.

Over the past 12 months the industry has experienced substantial reforms to existing environmental regulatory frameworks, including:

  • Transferring responsibility for environment regulation to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)
  • Introducing increased penalties for breaches and / offences
  • New mechanisms for prohibiting salmon farming in certain areas

However, this is just the beginning with much more comprehensive legislative amendments proposed by June 2018. The Salmon Plan envisages that these will introduce:

  • A competitive tender process for access to any new farming areas
  • A shift towards farming offshore, as opposed to the shallow inshore and estuarine farming that the industry currently utilises

Environmental assessment to meet international good practice

One of the major criticisms of the Finfish Bill was that it required environmental assessment of finfish activities but failed to provide a yardstick against which that assessment should be measured. The Salmon Plan foreshadows development of a “Tasmanian Salmon Industry Scorecard” which would seek to benchmark the industry against international good practice.

 Identification of future farming and exclusion zones

In an effort to provide certainty for both operators and communities about the growth of the industry into the future, the Salmon Plan provides a map of proposed “grow” and “no grow” zones for finfish in Tasmania. The new areas for salmon farm expansion will be in ocean waters off the north-west coast, King Island, Flinders Island and Storm Bay, with the remainder of the State’s coasts to be declared “no grow” zones (other than existing leases).

Finfish Tasmania Map

Comments on the Salmon Plan can be made until 8 September 2017 and industry participants and stakeholders should give careful consideration to the proposed changes.

To read the Salmon Plan visit the DPIPWE website here.

If you are interested in detailed advice or if you have any other queries about this article, please contact:

Catherine Scott
Partner
M: 0438 283 129
E: cscott@pageseager.com.au

Sarah Wilson
Associate
M: 0428 102 712
E: swilson@pageseager.com.au

Published: 17 August 2017

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