Federal Government Is Legally Obliged to Protect the Endangered Maugean Skate


The Australia Institute has provided Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek with additional evidence that highlights the urgent need to end fish farming in Macquarie Harbour, in further correspondence about Federal Government obligations to protect the endangered Maugean Skate.

This comes as new research by the Australia Institute shows a majority of people nationwide support stopping fish farming where it puts the skate at risk of extinction.

Key Points:

  • Environment Minister Plibersek is legally obligated under the EPBC Act, the World Heritage Convention, Australian World Heritage management principles and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan to protect the endangered Maugean skate.
  • One third of Macquarie Harbour is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, and the Maugean skate is a World Heritage value.
  • Another third of the harbour is part of the South-west Conservation Area, where 8 out of 10 fish farm leases are located.
  • The Maugean skate is on the brink of extinction, with its numbers declining by 47% since 2014.
  • Recent research by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) has shown that the primary threat to the skate is the decreased oxygen levels in Macquarie Harbour, largely attributed to the waste produced by fish farming.
  • Research shows that the adverse effects of fish farming are significantly impacting the Maugean skate.
  • The Australia Institute’s research shows that three in five Australians (61%) support stopping fish farming where it puts the endangered Maugean skate at risk of extinction, while only one in six (17%) oppose it.
  • A majority of Green, Labor, Coalition and Independent voters support stopping fish farming where it puts the endangered Maugean skate at risk of extinction.

“We’ve written to Minister Plibersek requesting a review of the 2012 decision that allowed large-scale fish farming in the harbour. Scientific evidence discovered since then should result in revoking that decision.  The science is clear: we now know that fish farms are having a significant impact on the skate,” said Eloise Carr, Director of the Australia Institute Tasmania.

“Reductions in fish biomass to date have not been enough: dissolved oxygen is not recovering. Clearly, we need to go much further. When fish are sent to market, pens should not be restocked. When environmental licenses run out on 30 November this year, they should not be renewed.

“It is time for difficult conversations. This needs the government to intervene, and Tasmanians support the government in doing so. But the Tasmanian government cannot be trusted to show the leadership this situation demands.

“In addition to the overwhelming scientific evidence, our research reveals strong national support for measures to protect our endangered species, including the Maugean Skate, from the impacts of salmon farming.

“The Australia Institute Tasmania reiterates Minister Plibersek’s obligation to intervene. The evidence is clear, and the time for “business as usual” is long past. Without immediate, decisive action, this unique species is likely to become extinct.”

Related documents

Letter to Minister Plibersek

Polling Brief

General Enquiries

Emily Bird Office Manager

02 6130 0530


Media Enquiries

David Barnott-Clement Media Advisor

0457 974 636


RSS Feed

Media Releases