Maugean skate recovery team gets “F” for failure – three months wasted


The team charged with planning the protection of the endangered Maugean skate in Macquarie Harbour has issued a second communique that utterly fails to address the mostly urgent issues.

"It's as if no one in the Skate Recovery Team has read the science, and is not aware of the urgent timeline." says NOFF campaigner, Jess Coughlan.

"The science says the fastest and simplest way to restore Dissolved Oxygen levels is to significantly reduce the salmon industry's feedlots in Macquarie Harbour as a priority and yet the team's communique totally ignores this expert advice. It seems the team has wasted three months when a marine heatwave that could drive the skate to extinction this summer makes action crucial – and it should be happening now."

Federal Environment minister, Tanya Plibersek's own scientific advisory body has recommended as an urgent priority "Eliminate or significantly reduce the impacts of salmonid aquaculture on dissolved oxygen concentrations. The fastest and simplest way to achieve this is by significantly reducing fish biomass and feeding rates." The advice urges the action before the coming summer.

"Clearly the team is stymied by the salmon industry whose chief lobbyist, Luke Martin, warned yesterday that not one single fish would be removed from Macquarie Harbour," says Ms Coughlan. "The fact that Salmon Tasmania is attempting to control the narrative, by publicly stating that this (mechanical oxygenation) is the full solution, without a resolved plan from the recovery team indicates an aim for blatant capture of the process."

NOFF says other measures such as breeding the 60-million-year old skate in captivity and an engineering solution of pumping oxygen into the water are stopgap measures that don't address the fundamental issues, including restoration of final critical habitat.

"Salmon Industry lobbyist, Luke Martin, yesterday warned the federal Environment minister "not a single fish" would be removed from Macquarie Harbour – clearly the industry is not prepared to face-up to its part in the looming disaster," says TAMP spokesperson, Peter George:

"In the Recovery Team's communique today, there is not one word about salmon and the effluent from the feedlots which has so badly impacted Macquarie Harbour. Yet the science from IMAS and the Federal government's own advisors is clear: the urgent priority before summer is to get the feedlots out of the waterway."