Government Decisions Look Set to Send Maugean Skate Towards Extinction

An endangered Maugean Skate in Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania's west coast. A unique endangered fish found only in Tasmania is surviving in just one lake, scientists have confirmed, ruling out the possibility of insurance populations being used to save the species.
AAP Image/Supplied by Jane Ruckert

Share

The Australia Institute has today condemned the decision by the Tasmanian EPA to renew fish farming in the Macquarie Harbour.

The decision comes just hours after the announcement of a review of salmon farming in the Macquarie Harbour by the Federal Government, under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

However, the Federal Government’s decision not to pause salmon farming in the region is contrary to direction from the Commonwealth Conservation Advice and represents a major setback for the health of Macquarie Harbour and the skate.

Today’s announcements follow letters from the Australia Institute to both Tasmanian and Australian governments laying out the new scientific evidence of the impacts of fish farming on water quality and the endangered Maugean skate.

Key Points:

  • EPA Tasmania has decided to renew environmental licences for all marine finfish farming leases within Macquarie Harbour for a 2-year period
  • New conditions require additional water quality monitoring and efforts to address oxygen depletion
  • National environment law requires applications for decisions to be reviewed when new evidence becomes available about impact on matters of national environmental significance
  • Conservation Advice identified urgent actions to be implemented prior to summer 2023 to ensure the species does not go extinct. It also identified eliminating or significantly reducing the impacts of salmon farming on dissolved oxygen concentrations as the top priority and the fastest and simplest way to achieve this is by significantly reducing fish biomass
  • The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water will undertake consultation about salmon farming in Macquarie Harbour from 4 December – 2 February 2024

“The Australia Institute condemns the EPA’s decision to renew fish farming licences in Macquarie Harbour ahead of a forecast hot summer. This decision looks set to send the Maugean Skate towards extinction,’ said Eloise Carr, Director of the Australia Institute Tasmania.

“The EPA is yet to provide their reasoning. But the available information about today’s decision includes details of non-compliance with previous licence conditions. In one survey, 36% of sites in 6 out of 10 leases were not compliant. There are numerous non-compliances throughout the last licence period. Over the last 5 years, only two surveys found that sites and leases fully complied with licence conditions. This alone is enough to refuse renewal.

“This decision raises serious questions about the undue influence of this industry.

“The Federal Government’s review is welcome and necessary. However, it is disappointing that Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek is acting inconsistently with her own Department’s advice. The advice identified urgent actions that should be implemented prior to summer 2023 to ensure the species does not go extinct. The advice also identified eliminating or significantly reducing the impacts of salmon farming on dissolved oxygen concentrations as the top priority and the fastest and simplest way to achieve this is by significantly reducing fish biomass.

“Minister Plibersek previously flagged a temporary halt to fish farming during the reconsideration process. That approach would be consistent with her department’s advice. This approach is not.”

General Enquiries

Emily Bird Office Manager

02 6130 0530

mail@australiainstitute.org.au

Media Enquiries

Luciana Lawe Davies Media Adviser

0457 974 636

luciana@australiainstitute.org.au

RSS Feed

Media Releases