25 February 2019
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust is calling for Tassal and Huon Aquaculture’s Store Bay Marine Farming Plan approvals to be revoked in light of two scientific members of the Marine Farm Planning Review Panel (Panel) resigning and saying the process was ‘inherently compromised’.
A letter by the two scientists who resigned from the Panel in protest last August details why the two scientists resigned. The letter is attached to this media release.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust Director Peter McGlone said that:
‘The former panel members, both eminent scientists, provide a damning assessment of the operations of the Panel which justifies revoking the permits to restore trust to the process’.
‘While the current and former ministers have lectured us about how independent, science-based and rigorous the Panel process is, the former panel members state that the panel assessment of the Storm Bay Assessment is not science-based, is not objective and is not rigorous.
The panel members stated that
‘Our appointment to the Panel was, we were led to believe, intended to ensure rigour in the review of the proposed developments and to provide the Minister with sound, objective, and scientifically based advice. A number of factors prevented this.’
The letter from the former panel members says that whilst the two scientists are supportive of a sustainable salmon industry, they resigned from the panel because they were unable to ‘apply current best practice and the lessons from Macquarie Harbour’.
The former panel members say that their job as scientists was hindered by factors including the panel’s ‘undue propensity to support what is operationally convenient for the industry’.
The former panel members provide details of how the science required for the assessments is seriously deficient and that when this was raised their concerns were ‘inconvenient and unwelcome.
The former panel members said:
- - there was ‘no detailed biogeochemical model’ form Storm Bay
- - ‘no Government endorsed biosecurity plan’
- - no ‘regulatory guidelines to define the standards’ companies must be held to
- - ‘natural values of Storm Bay have not been mapped and considered’.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust Director Peter McGlone continued:
‘Ministers Courtney and Barnett approved Marine Farming Plans in Storm Bay for Tassal and Huon after they had received the resignations from two panel members – ignoring their concerns.’
‘Revoking the Storm Bay permits as a precursor to revamping the legislation that governs the panel’s operations is the only way to restore the community’s trust that the flawed marine farming planning process will be fixed.’
‘The Tasmanian Conservation Trust has been calling for reform of the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel for a decade or more’.
‘Here is proof in black and white, that the Hodgman government tried so hard to hide, that the approvals for Storm Bay are not based on scientific evidence, but instead on what is ‘operationally convenient for the aquaculture industry’.’
‘We are calling on Hodgman to intervene and sort out this mess.’
‘Getting the industry on a sustainable footing is essential for the industry’s future as well as the environment of Storm Bay and the Derwent Estuary.’
‘The Storm Bay expansions would add up to 80,000 tpa of industrial salmon production, and 4,500 tpa of dissolved nitrogen into the Lower Derwent, which is 15 times more than all of Greater Hobart’s combined output.’
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