TAMP calls for revocation of environmental licences for salmon industry in Macquarie Harbour


The state's peak marine protection body, TAMP, calls for environmental licences permitting salmon industry operations in Macquarie Harbour to be revoked.

The demand follows the release of a federal government assessment of the threat to the Maugean skate that exists only in Macquarie Harbour.

TAMP president, Peter George, says the report makes it clear that open-net salmon cages polluting the waterway are the major threat driving the potential extinction of the 60-million-year-old dinosaur animal.

Skate numbers have dropped so dramatically that scientists warn the skate may be just one major event away from being wiped out.

"Environmental licences for salmon industry operations in Macquarie Harbour are due for review in November and refusal to renew them would prove the quickest and most likely way to help recover the waterway's health and stave off potential extinction," says Peter George.

"This is down to the Tasmanian EPA's chief, Wes Ford, making the obvious decision and he needs to be backed-up by state Environment minister, Roger Jaensch.

"The salmon industry will fight tooth-and-nail to remain in Macquarie Harbour no matter how much damage its doing to the waterway.

"The salmon industry and the minister have done their best to obfuscate, trying to hide the clear science that shows open-net fish cages are the major cause of the waterway's declining health.

"This crucial advice provided to the Federal Environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, leaves the salmon industry and state authorities nowhere to hide."

TAMP notes that gillnet fishing and changes to river flows caused by upstream Hydro dams have also impacted Macquarie Harbour, along with historic pollution from mining, but evicting salmon and ocean trout pens from the waterway is clearly the most urgent and effective action that can be taken.

Any mooted plan to breed Maugean skate in captivity would simply waste taxpayers' money unless its natural habitat – Macquarie Harbour – is restored to full health. Otherwise, a breeding programme would do no more than reduce yet another species to a zoological exhibit.