Macquarie Harbour

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The EPA currently regulates finfish farming at 10 marine farming leases in the Macquarie Harbour region.

The location of these finfish farms and associated environmental licences can be accessed via the EPA Regulated Premises layer on LISTmap. See our Site Information​ page for details.​

The Marine Farming Development Plan for the region is available on the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania website.

EPA submission to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) regarding reconsideration of EPBC decision 2012/6406

The Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) invited the Tasmanian EPA to comment on the 2012 referral decision in relation to the expansion of marine farming in Macquarie Harbour ('not a controlled action if undertaken in a particular manner') made by the then Commonwealth Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

The EPA lodged a submission on 2 February 2024. Updates of DCCEEW's reconsideration process can be viewed here: Project Decision · EPBC Act Public Portal

The EPA submission provides an overview of actions undertaken by the EPA since becoming responsible for the environmental regulation of finfish farming in 2016, summarises trends observed through environmental monitoring and compliance assessments and consolidates the most recent scientific findings relevant to the future well-being of the Maugean Skate population in Macquarie Harbour.

The submission also explains the future environmental management approach the EPA plans to​ implement in relation to finfish farming within Macquarie Harbour. ​

 EPA Submission Regarding Reconsideration of EPBC 2012-6406 (PDF 1Mb)

Environmental Licence Renewals

On 30 November 2023, the EPA Director decided to renew for a 2-year period all environmental licences for leases within Macquarie Harbour.

The Director has provided Statements of Reasons that outline the Director's reasons for renewing each of the Environmental Licences in Macquarie Harbour.

Statement of Reasons - EL Renewal - Huon Aquaculture and Southern Ocean Trout - Macquarie Harbour - Nov 2023 (PDF 180Kb)

Statement of Reasons - EL Renewal - Tassal and Aquatas - Macquarie Harbour - Nov 2023 (PDF 180Kb)

Statement of Reasons - EL Renewal - Petuna Aquaculture - Macquarie Harbour - Nov 2023 (PDF 173Kb)

Additional circumstances that the Director has considered under section 42T(5) of EMPCA during his decision-making process in renewing the Environmental Licences in Macquarie Harbour are found below: 

 Circumstances for ​​​Consideration Under section 42T(5) (PDF 213Kb)


On renewing these environmental licences, the EPA Director imposed additional conditions on these environmental licences. The additional conditions include requirements for each environmental licence holder to:

  1. provide the Director with the overall dissolved oxygen demand resulting from finfish activities on their lease;

  2. provide and implement a Dissolved Oxygen Mitigation Plan to substantially offset or reduce dissolved oxygen demand from their lease; and

  3. ​​develop for approval and implement a Water Quality Monitoring Plan to measure the success of the dissolved oxygen mitigation measures against the interim default guideline values set by the EPA.

For further details regarding environmental licence conditions, all environmental licences can be accessed via the EPA Regulated Premises layer on LISTmap​.​

Compliance History

Below is a table that outlines the past benthic non-compliances recorded at compliance sites situated 35 m from the lease boundary for all marine finfish farming leases in Macquarie Harbour between 2016 and 2024.

 MH Compliance Site Summary Table (PDF 66Kb)​

Management Determinations

The EPA issues Environmental Licences and makes determinations under management controls specified in Marine Farming Development Plans. This includes the setting of biomass caps in the past, and now the setting of Total Permissible Dissolved Nitrogen Output (TPDNO) for Macquarie Harbour.​

​Current Determination

Since 1 September 2022 a more accountable system for limiting the production of finfish in Macquarie Harbour is in place. A determination limiting TPDNO has replaced the standing biomass caps which had been used in previous determinations that were made by the Secretary, Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania and the Director, EPA. The rationale for changing from biomass limits to TPDNO can be found here:

Rationale for changing management determination from Biomass to Total Permissible Dissolved Nitrogen Output

This determination specifies the harbour-wide TPDNO, providing each company growing finfish in Macquarie Harbour with a share (apportionment) of the total TPDNO. The aim of this TPDNO determination is to build upon improvements in ecosystem function and dissolved oxygen levels that have been observed in Macquarie Harbour since 2017. The new determination reduces dissolved nitrogen outputs by approximately 10% compared with 2021 levels. A statement of reasons supporting the decision for moving towards TPDNO can be found below. 

On 31 August 2022 the Director, EPA made a new Determination for Macquarie Harbour. The TPDNO for Macquarie Harbour is 500.1 tonnes applicable for any rolling 12-month period from 1 September 2022 to 31 August 2027. The Director re-issued the determination on 27 September 2022 to include the unit of measurement.​​

 Statement of Reasons - TPDNO Determination - 1 September 2022 to 31 August 2027 (PDF 132Kb)

 Macquarie Harbour - TPDNO Determination - 1 September 2022 to 31 August 2027 (PDF 93Kb)

 TPDNO Compliance Assessment Methodology - Explanatory Paper (PDF 401Kb)

​Past Determinations​

​​2022

Biomass Determination 1 June 2022 to 31 August 2022 - Huon Aquaculture (PDF 198Kb)

Biomass Determination 1 June 2022 to 31 August 2022 - Petuna Aquaculture (PDF 195Kb)

Biomass Determination 1 June 2022 to 31 August 2022 - Tassal (PDF 174Kb)

Macquarie Harbour Biomass Determination 1 June 2022 to 31 August 2022 - Statement of Reasons (PDF 133Kb)

​20​20

Biomass Determination 1 June 2020 to 31 May 2022 - Joint Venture (Tassal and Petuna) (PDF 168Kb)

Biomass Determination 1 June 2020 to 31 May 2022 - Huon Aquaculture (PDF 164Kb)

Statement of Reasons - Macquarie Harbour Biomass Determination - 1 June 2020 to 31 May 2022 (PDF 99Kb)​

2019​​​

 Macquarie Harbour Joint Venture (Petuna and Tassal) Determination 31 January 2019 (PDF 199Kb)

​​2​​018

EPA Director Wes Ford's Statement of Reasons for the determination of the peak biomass for salmonids in Macquarie Harbour for the period 1 June 2018 to 31 May 2020 (PDF 188Kb)

​​2017

Tassal Determinations Reissued, 6 June 2017

Tassal 2017 Reissued Determinations, Macquarie Harbour (PDF 146Kb)

Statement of Reasons for Tassal determination reissue, 6 June 2017 (PDF 463Kb)

Final Biomass Determination, May 2017

EPA Director's statement (PDF 214Kb)

Determination, January 2017

EPA Director's Notice of Determinations for Aquaculture Companies, Macquarie Harbour, Jan 2017   (PDF 469Kb)

Independent environmental monitoring by the EPA

Sediment conditions and dissolved oxygen levels are regularly monitored in Macquarie Harbour, to inform management measures to minimise the impact of marine farming on benthic communities.

In September 2023, the EPA reinstated data logging equipment on the World Heritage Area boundary of Macquarie Harbour. Data logging equipment had been deployed at this location from 2013 until December 2022. The data logger string will record dissolved oxygen at 10, 25 and 35 metres from the surface and be sited in an area of approximately 50 metres of depth. An additional logger string was deployed within the deep central channel of the harbour with dissolved oxygen loggers at 10, 25 and 35 metres from the surface. Further logger instrumentation was deployed near the mouth of the Gordon and King Rivers and within Kelly Channel. The dissolved oxygen loggers at these locations will aid in characterising oxygen levels for the confluence of the Gordon and King Rivers with Macquarie Harbour and the oxygen levels at the harbour mouth.

The EPA will also undertake quarterly monitoring of physico-chemical, nutrient and metal data at 15 sites throughout Macquarie Harbour. The EPA data will allow for the characterisation of waters within Macquarie Harbour and entering from the Gordon and King Rivers and entering/exiting to the oceanic environment. The EPA monitoring sites are additional to the 17 sites monitored by the salmon industry on a monthly basis under the Broadscale Environmental Monitoring Program (BEMP) requirements of the environmental licences. All available data will be compared to long term datasets for sites monitored since 2013 (oxygen logger) and 1993 (quarterly water sampling) by the EPA.

As of 2024, the EPA will be deploying additional logger instrumentation within the WHA area. The instrumentation will be sited south of Gould Point and extend data coverage along the deepest part of Macquarie Harbour. The data logger string will record dissolved oxygen at 10, 15 and 25 metres from the surface and be sited in an area of approximately 30 metres of depth.

The EPA is also investigating areas on the western side of the harbour between Liberty Point and Hogan Cove for deployment of three additional sets of data logging equipment. The data logger strings would be deployed in areas of approximately 20 metres of depth.​

Res​earch

Research information for Macquarie Harbour is provided from a number of sources, including the salmon companies, private consultants, Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (University of Tasmania), Government and the EPA.

IMAS Assessment of Macquarie Harbour BEMP data from 2011 to 2020, March 2022 (PDF 8Mb)

IMAS Environmental Research Progress Report, February 2020 (IMAS website 3.0Mb)

IMAS Environmental Research Progress Report, July 2019 (IMAS website 5.5Mb)

IMAS Progress Report on Macquarie Harbour, December 2018 (IMAS website 6Mb)

IMAS Progress Report on Macquarie Harbour, February 2018 (IMAS website 2.6Mb)

IMAS Progress Report on Macquarie Harbour, September 2017​ (IMAS website 2.6Mb)

Macquarie Harbour TWWHA Environmental Status Report, EPA, May 2017 (PDF 1Mb)

IMAS Progress Report on Macquarie Harbour, May 2017 (IMAS website 4.6Mb)​

IMAS Technical Report on Macquarie Harbour Condition (IMAS website 3.7Mb)