Tasmania’s salmon producers have been given the green light to expand their operations in Storm Bay, with 180 jobs to come from it, the Government says.
Tassal has proposed fish-farming leases in Storm Bay at West of Wedge, while Huon Aquaculture wants to expand on the eastern side of Bruny Island.
Tasmania’s Marine Farming Planning Review Panel conducted hearings into the plans earlier this year, which recommended the State Government allow the expansion.
The proposals have caused concerns among some in the boating community over fears debris from fish-farm infrastructure could jeopardise safety, while opponents to fish farming have cited previous environmental issues.
The panel received more than 200 submissions regarding the proposals.
A map showing the Storm Bay existing and proposed salmon leases, with the Sydney To Hobart yacht race course to the finish line, up river. (ABC News)
In a statement, the Acting Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Premier Will Hodgman, said the Government’s acceptance of the panel’s recommendation to “allow the expansion was made after consideration of comprehensive environmental impact statements, public submissions, representations and public hearings”.
The panel had found “environmental effects associated with marine-farming operations can be effectively managed,” Mr Hodgman said.
Huon Aquaculture’s Yellow Bluff plans would create a new marine-farming zone in Storm Bay off Trumpeter Bay at North Bruny Island, as well as modifying four existing zones.
Tassal’s plans for the Tasman Peninsula and Norfolk Bay would create a new farming zone just under 2km from West of Wedge Island.
The companies will now apply for Marine Farming Leases, followed by Marine Farming Licences.
The operators will be required to apply for an environmental licence from the EPA and comply with the requirements in relation to environmental management of the site before any fish can be farmed.
Petuna’s $70 million proposed expansion into the bay is up to four years away.
“An application from Petuna in relation to its proposed Storm Bay farming operation was still subject to the statutory approval process,” Mr Hodgman said.
Opponents to expanded farming have pointed to environmental concerns and debris from the fish pens. (Supplied: Rod Hartvigsen)
Approval ‘makes mockery’ of consultation process: Greens
In a statement, Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff said the decision showed the “disregard [the Government] holds for community consultation and scientific evidence”.
“Lengthy Marine Farming Panel hearings were undertaken to assess community concerns and the marine impacts of a Storm Bay expansion, and people participated in this process seriously and in good faith,” she said.
“The Storm Bay hearings made a mockery of respectful and formal consultation.
“No participant received any response to their written or verbal presentations, and no final report was released to justify the panel’s decision before the approval was dumped into an afternoon media release.”
Environment Tasmania spokesman Philip Cocker warned there would be a backlash from the community.
“There’s an enormous amount of concern about Bruny Island from Bruny Island residents with the debris in the area,” he said.
Mr Cocker said the announcement would cause a “sense of bitter disappointment” that a call for a moratorium on fish-farm expansion was seemingly ignored.
“The community, the recreational fishers, the commercial fishers and environmentalists came together last week, asking for a moratorium so that we can get better science and we can better understand the potential damage to these areas before we go on and expand into Storm Bay,” he said.
“I think we’re going to see the rise and rise of communities saying enough.”
The companies issued statements today welcoming the announcement.