The EPA Director has provided the following lines in response to media inquiries today regarding the ASC Draft Re-Assessment Report on Tassal's operations in Macquarie Harbour.
• The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is currently reviewing the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Draft Re-assessment Report on Tassal’s operations at two lease sites in Macquarie Harbour, which was released yesterday. The EPA will evaluate the findings and recommendations of the ASC’s draft audit and take these into consideration in its ongoing management of Tassal's operation in Macquarie Harbour.
• The major findings relate to a lack of compliance with Marine Farming Licence conditions at the two lease sites, specifically in regard to ecosystem function, community engagement and legal compliance. These conditions form the basis of the EPA’s environmental regulation.
• The EPA is currently looking at a range of options and management actions using all the scientific and technical information currently available. This information includes surveys undertaken in April, after the ASC audit process, which indicate that both leases do, at present, comply, and Tassal has undertaken management controls that are expected to maintain this compliance.
• The EPA is currently considering expanding the environmental indicators and requirements for compliance monitoring and assessment of marine farm leases. This is in response to issues around sediment recovery in the Harbour, particularly the slow recovery rate for fallowed pens, enabling more detailed information to be collected and better understanding of impact recovery.
• Macquarie Harbour is a complex ecosystem, with complex problems influenced by many external factors, including earlier contamination from other industries, as well as other environmental factors outside of the control of aquaculture itself in the Harbour.
*In the interests of public disclosure, the EPA makes responses to media inquiries available via the EPA website under the News section.