Dutton backs salmon farmers amid water quality woes

Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says pausing salmon farming in Tasmania’s Macquarie Harbour would be a political decision and has rejected calls to stop the industry in order to save an endangered fish.

Mr Dutton was in Macquarie Harbour on the west coast on Sunday talking to locals who are concerned the federal government may restrict salmon farming in order to improve water quality to protect the future of the endangered Maugean skate that’s unique to Tasmania.

Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek is overseeing a review and and Mr Dutton made clear his view of any pause to salmon farming.

“If Tanya Plibersek takes a political decision here, which will benefit the Labor Party in Green seats in inner city Sydney and Melbourne, it will destroy the lives and the livelihoods of people here in the local community,” he said.

“If we close down the industry, what happens?

“Well … we’ll import that product. It won’t be farmed to the same environmental standards that it is here in Tasmania. We lose the local jobs. We lose the environmental benefits.”

However, groups including the Australia Institute, the Bob Brown Foundation and the Environmental Defenders Office say salmon farming is affecting Maugean skate.

The groups cite University of Tasmania research showing a decline in numbers.

Fewer than 1000 skates are believed to remain in the harbour – the only place where the skate can be found.

Bob Brown Foundation campaigner Alistair Allan said Mr Dutton was ignoring the impending extinction of a species.

“Salmon farming and the Maugean Skate simply cannot exist. If they could, the Maugean Skate wouldn’t be on the edge of extinction,” he said.

The industry group Salmon Tasmania will soon begin a trial to mechanically oxygenate water in the harbour, part of efforts to boost the skate’s survival prospects.

Ms Plibersek has said the trial alone will not improve water quality and the skate’s future.

Cutting salmon loads will be important, she said.

Mr Dutton was asked by reporters what measures he would take if he was in government but only said industry should not be closed.


Steven Deare
(Australian Associated Press)


Like This