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Experts explain that the new regulation on industrial salmon farming in Tasmania (New Zealand) is not enough. According to Environmental Defenders, what began as a small, low-tech industry has exploded over the past two decades, yet regulation is not commensurate with the industry’s impact on the environment.

Louise Cherrie is an environmental management specialist and former member of Tasmania’s Marine Farming Planning Review Panel, which approves new salmon farming leases. In her interview with the ABC newspaper, she explained that she resigned in 2018 “frustrated at the lack of questioning over fish farm expansion into Storm Bay.”

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Therewith she explained to ABC that “the technical detail is absent.” Clarifying that “no solid numbers, no solid standards, targets are absent.” This implies a growing controversy in the area over the practice of aquaculture.

Submissions on the draft standards closed the last week and continue in evaluation by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment. As Cherrie explains for ABC “What we need is … some clear standards with numbers and timelines associated.”

Against environmental responsibility: the main point of the drafts

Firstly, environmental organizations argue, the new rules do not set clear limits. On the one hand, regarding the level of pollution allowed and, on the other hand, the number of harvests permitted. This increases nitrogen pollution that pushes other species, such as the ancient Maugean skate, toward extinction.

Furthermore, the new rules will not require public information on salmon farming monitoring data to be publicly available. Neither information on environmental management decisions made by the EPA Board them, so there is a lack of transparency.

Finally, among the most criticized measures are the additional meters of “significant environmental impacts”. Through this measure, the government allows fish farmers an additional 100 meters of permitted “significant environmental impacts” around their farms. As a result, the companies could legally contaminate the seabed up to 135 meters from the edge of their fish farming site, when they are currently limited to 35 meters.

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