Tidal Wave of Alarm for Tassie Oceans Amid Landmark Marine Law Review: Research

An overwhelming majority of Tasmanians (76%) are concerned about the dire state of Tasmania’s coastal waters and oceans amid a landmark law review aimed at protecting the marine environment and economy, according to new research from the Australia Institute Tasmania.

The new polling supports the Australia Institute Tasmania’s call for a marine law overhaul, contained in its submission to the Living Marine Resource Management Act 1995 Review – the first of its kind in 26 years.

Key Polling Findings:

  • More than three in four Braddon voters (76%) are concerned that Tasmania’s ocean is under pressure from climate change, pollution, and fishing and support the government taking action to make sure it stays healthy for future generations
  • Majority of Braddon voters (63%) agree that the expansion of salmon farms around Tasmania should be suspended until current government inquiries are completed and their recommendations implemented
  • Almost 7 in 10 (67%) agree the Federal Government should match Tasmania by setting a net-zero by 2030 emissions target
  • Federal seat of Braddon 2PP: Labor 53%, Liberal 47%

“Our research shows overwhelming community concern for the health of Tasmania’s coastal waters. It is clear Tasmania’s current marine laws are failing to protect the environment and the marine economy for the long-term,” said Eloise Carr, Director the Australia Institute Tasmania.

“Tasmania’s coastal waters are globally significant, but are suffering from depleted fish stocks, threatened species, and poor habitat protection. Pollution and climate change are only exacerbating the problem.

“Tasmanian marine law needs to be urgently overhauled to ensure our environment and marine economy can continue to thrive.

“This is the first review of its kind in over 26 years. We cannot waste this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform our ocean management.

“Short-term thinking and vested interests are wrecking our waterways, and it is all Tasmanians who will pay the price,” Ms Carr said.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment will release a Summary Report in June 2022 on issues identified by Government and stakeholders. The Review is scheduled to take 18 months, culminating in an Options Paper. The Government will then consider and decide whether to adopt changes to the existing Act or prepare new legislation.

Key submission findings:

  • Eight out of 19 (42%) of Tasmania’s assessed commercial fish stocks are classified as having depleted or currently depleting stocks.
  • Overfishing of rock lobsters allowed historic lows of less than 10% of natural levels in 2011-12. Stocks are now rebuilding and assessed as sustainable, despite some areas with less than 20% of their natural population levels at the latest stock assessment.
  • The Act does not address climate change or include the precautionary principle, which prevents scientific uncertainty being used to delay environmental protection measures.
  • Centrostephanus urchin barrens, which decimate rocky reefs, now cover over 15% of east coast reefs, impacting commercially and recreationally important habitats.

Key recommendations in the Australia Institute Tasmania submission include:

  • Establishing an overarching legal framework for coordinated management that takes into account the needs of the environment to remain healthy. This includes consideration of current and future uses of Tasmania’s coastal waters for all uses, users and values.
  • Use multi-sector marine spatial planning to implement this approach.
  • Appropriate recognition of the rights of First Nations Tasmanians should be developed through direct engagement.
  • An economic return should be paid to the community for the private use of public resources.
  • Set precautionary fish stock targets to retain 48% of natural populations for Tasmanian fisheries.

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