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Okehampton Bay

​​​​Marine Farming lease approval

Baseline Monitoring Survey, June 2017

Marine Farming Licence Variation, August 2017

Monitoring Requirements

Independent monitoring undertaken by EPA

Marine Farming lease approval and review

The original aquaculture lease in Okehampton Bay was granted in 1999. Following Tassal's expression of interest in actively farming the lease, the Marine Farm Planning Review Panel assessed the suitability of the lease area for finfish farming. The scope of the assessment was limited to specific issues identified in the terms of reference. The MFPRP's February report​ oultines the Panel's findings and recommendations to the Minister of Primary Industries and Water.

The Panel concluded that the proposed environmental management and monitoring regime in relation to salmon farming at Okehampton Bay is supported by current science, and capable of being dealt with under an adaptive management regime. A key recommendation was for the original baseline survey, conducted in 1996 and 2000, to be repeated to ensure that environmental conditions within and adjacent to the lease area were established and documented prior to commencement of active farming. Another recommendation was for of an ongoing far-field ambient monitoring program, consistent with cotemporary Broadscale Environmental Monitoring (BEMP) requirements.

Baseline Monitoring Survey, June 2017

A comprehensive baseline survey was conducted in June 2017. This included video surveys, benthic infauna sampling, threatened species survey, sediment chemistry and physical characteristics as well as mapping of reef communities at Okehampton Bay. Tassal submitted the final baseline survey report to the EPA on 1 August 2017, and it received the Director’s endorsement on 10 August 2017. The Baseline Environmental Assessment Final Report July 2017 is available on Tassal's website and a link is provided here. 

Marine Farming Licence Variation, August 2017

On 21 August 2017, the EPA Director issued a variation to the Marine Farming Licence 236 for Okehampton Bay. A key component of the varied licence is the inclusion of a robust and comprehensive monitoring program designed to detect potential impacts on ecosystem health at an early stage. This will allow the iterative management of the lease to prevent significant impacts. Other additions include a requirement for publicly available Annual Environmental Reports to be prepared by Tassal, and modelling of water dispersion and sediment distribution to be undertaken within one year of stocking the lease. On 23 August 2017, the Director, Marine Resources varied the licence again to allow the operation of a feed barge. A copy of the most recent version of Marine Farming Licence No 236 issued under the Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995 is available here. 

Monitoring Requirements

The varied licence introduced stringent environmental monitoring and reporting conditions, including an increased monitoring program, requiring additional monitoring at far-field (BEMP) sites as well as close to the lease boundary. The scope of the revised monitoring program is extensive and includes water quality, benthic infauna and sediment monitoring as well as surveys of seagrass beds and reefs which may be located within the area of impact.

The monitoring program is designed to generate reliable information to allow the analysis of impacts associated with the operation of the lease and attempts to be consistent with scientific studies previously undertaken in the area in order to streamline monitoring effort. Data collected through the program will provide early detection of potentially harmful effects and thereby provide opportunities for adaptive management practices.

The increased monitoring regime also includes more frequent video surveys under pen bays and along the lease boundary.

Independent monitoring undertaken by EPA

In addition to operational monitoring to be undertaken by Tassal, EPA will undertake independent monitoring of water quality around the Okehampton Bay lease. EPA is committed to implementing this monitoring prior to the stocking of the lease and commenced on 21 August 2017. Detailed information and monitoring results will be made available on the EPAs webpage when available.