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Independent Review green lights salmon farming in Okehampton Bay

Jeremy Rockliff, Minister for Primary Industries and Water

The independent Marine Farm Planning Review Panel has confirmed that current environmental science supports salmon farming at Okehampton Bay and that the monitoring and management of salmon farming in Tasmania is considered to be world’s best practice.

The Panel's report to government, which is available here debunks false claims made by green groups around the suitability of the site and the environmental impacts of the operation on surrounding areas.

Among other things, the Report includes:

"The Panel rejected the argument that temperatures were too high at Okehampton Bay for salmon farming"

"The Panel rejected the argument that Okehampton Bay was too shallow for finfish farming"

"The Panel rejected assertions that lease # 236 at Okehampton Bay was unsuitable for salmon farming noting that baseline surveys and more recent environmental information on conditions and Okehampton Bay showed that it was similar to other areas in South East Tasmania where salmon farming existed"

Almost 6000 submissions were received, and while the Panel was unable to determine how many of these were from Tasmanian residents, they did note that:

"….almost all were duplicated campaign submissions (some in foreign languages)."

The Panel recommended a further baseline assessment of environmental data should be carried out prior to the commencement of salmon farming to allow the establishment of an environmental management regime.

This will also ensure that the data being used to assess the impacts of farming on the environment is contemporary.

I am informed by Tassal that they have been collecting environmental information on the site for some time, which will contribute to the new baseline assessment.

The panel also recommended that management controls within the Great Oyster Bay and Mercury Passage Marine Farming Development Plan should be updated to reflect consistency with the six other plans to set out best practice for the management of dissolved nitrogen inputs.

The Tasmanian Government has accepted the advice and recommendations of the Panel and is already acting on them, with the introduction of a Total Permissible Dissolved Nitrogen Output (Nitrogen Cap) for the Okehampton Bay development.

I thank the Panel for their work in undertaking the assessment as it has been important for community confidence in the project.

We have always said we will be guided by the science and I now call on those opposed to this proposal to abide by the independent umpire’s decision.

The Panel consisted of six members and included experts that represented various areas of expertise:

Mr Craig Midgely (chairman). Fisheries Management expertise

Mr Wes Ford – Director Environment Protection Authority.

Adjunct Professor Colin Buxton - Marine Resource Management Scientist

John Harry - Marine Farming Expertise

Neil McLarty Campbell - Local Government Expertise

Ms Heather Chong – Minister’s nominee with expertise in Agri-business

The Hodgman Liberal Government remains totally committed to our world class and sustainable salmon industry that employs more than 5000 people, mostly in regional Tasmania.