Skate team member wants salmon out of Macquarie Harbour


A member of the Maugean skate recovery team has asked Tasmania's environmental watchdog to reject the renewal of salmon farm licences in Macquarie Harbour, which are due to expire in November. Dr Leonardo Guida, a shark scientist with the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) and member of the Maugean skate recovery team, said the fish was "literally choking to death … because of salmon farming depleting the oxygen the skate needs to survive".

There are fewer than 1,000 skate left in the harbour on Tasmania's West Coast, the last known habitat of the ancient species. Recent advice prepared by the Federal Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water recommended that the "impacts of salmonid aquaculture on dissolved oxygen concentrations" be eliminated or significantly reduced in the harbour before this summer.

Dr Guida said the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), legal advisers to the AMCS, has asked Tasmanian EPA director Wes Ford to refuse renewal of 10 licences for fish farming in the harbour. The licences are set to expire on November 30.

Dr Guida is one of 20 members of the Maugean skate recovery team – jointly appointed by the state and federal governments – which has been tasked with finding ways of saving the skate.

EDO managing lawyer Claire Bookless said the recent conservation advice made it clear that "the key threat to the skate's survival is poor water quality … and that the primary cause is fish farming".

Reported in the Mercury 8 October 2023