Tasmanian Government Action Plan Will “Monitor the Maugean Skate Into 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


The Australia Institute Tasmania has found that the Tasmanian Government’s newly released Conservation Action Plan for the Maugean skate comprehensively fails to deal with the number one threat to the critically endangered species: fish farming.

The Action Plan is meant to better manage threats to the health of Macquarie Harbour and the skate; however, it fails to identify any measures to reduce the amount of fish farming, which is scientifically proven to be the number one threat to the Maugean skate.

Key points:

  • The Tasmanian Government’s Conservation Action Plan fails to identify fish farming as the number one threat to the Maugean skate and does not include any reduction to fish farming in Macquarie Harbour.
  • Australian Government scientists have clearly identified fish farming as the number one threat to the species and are reviewing salmon farming in Macquarie Harbour.
  • The Australian Government identified as an urgent priority before this summer to “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.” They have clearly identified management actions in order of highest to lowest priority based on available evidence and this is at the top of the list.
  • This week, scientists announced that two of the four endangered Maugean skates have died in the captive breeding program designed to prevent the extinction of the species.
  • The Action Plan includes additional environmental monitoring, potential technological solutions such as the reoxygenation trial currently underway. It also identifies actions for hydropower waterflow regulation, the captive breeding program, changes to commercial and recreational fisheries, including gillnetting, cultural and community engagement activities, and continued efforts to address heavy metal pollution.

“This week, the Prime Minister told ABC Radio that primary responsibility for protecting the skate sits with the state government. This plan shows that the state government is failing,” said Eloise Carr, Director, Australia Institute Tasmania

“The Tasmanian Government plans to monitor the Maugean skate into extinction rather than address fish farming, which we know is the number one threat to the species.

“The glaring omission of fish farming in the Action Plan demonstrates the undue influence this industry has over the Tasmanian government and regulators. This is why Tasmania relies again and again on federal government intervention.

“The Tasmanian Government seems incapable of making decisions based on the science, and in the best interest of all Tasmanians.

“Instead, this is being done against the best possible evidence and in the name of a relatively small number of jobs – less than a hundred. What job is worth the extinction of an entire species?

“This is an industry that has paid zero tax in the last three years, employs relatively few people – fewer than 2,000 state-wide, most of which are located within a short drive from Hobart. They are not the so-called vital regional industry they claim to be. Their profits are exported and impacts are being born by all Tasmanians through their unsustainable environmental impacts and deliberately misleading information tactics.”

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