Technical Standards for Marine Finfish Farms

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​In accordance with section 96X of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act​​ 1994​ (EMPCA), the EPA is now in the process of drafting technical standards that are necessary to support the new Environmental Standards​. Among other things, technical standards may set out monitoring methods and processes for making determinations.

Technical standards need to be made in relation to several topics, including, but not limited to:

  • Establishment of reference conditions, environmental indicators, and reference sites
  • Baseline environmental assessments
  • Broadscale environmental monitoring programs
  • Water quality and investigative trigger values
  • Soft sediment video surveys
  • Detailed sediment surveys
  • Reef habitat surveys
  • Seagrass habitat surveys
  • Total permissible dissolved nitrogen output (TPDNO)
  • Therapeutant management
  • Noise management

The key focus during their development will be to ensure that each technical standard contains contemporary, scientifically sound, and auditable methods that enable the EPA to fully implement the new environmental standards. As such, the EPA is currently drafting each technical standard with the support of our internal and external scientific advisors (including, for example, the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and the Conservation Assessments Section at the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania).

Consultation process​​

The EPA will seek to engage with stakeholders representing the community, scientific organisations, industry and their consultants to develop technical standards in an open and collaborative manner.

​The consultation process for the technical standards will consist of:

  • Step 1: A presentation to interested community members to provide an overview of each draft technical standard and key issues for the community to consider. A separate presentation will also be offered to industry representatives.

  • Step 2: Opportunity for anyone to provide written comment on each draft technical standard or package of related draft technical standards. The consultation period will be 6 weeks and will be notified via media release and will be published on the EPA website.​

  • Step 3: EPA to summarise and evaluate comments and modify the draft technical standards as appropriate.

  • Step 4: EPA to organise targeted workshops. For each technical standards package, a pair of separate workshops will be held.

    • Workshop 1 is to be attended by industry, consultants, and scientific organisations.

    • Workshop 2 is to be attended by stakeholders representing community concerns and scientists.

  • Step 5: EPA to modify the technical standards, taking into account consultation findings, and document the rationale for decisions made.

  • Step 6: The EPA Director to make the technical standards in accordance with EMPCA.

  • Step 7: EPA to gazette the technical standards.

  • Step 8: The EPA Director to publish the technical standards accompanied by the reasons for making the technical standard, a summary of submissions and de-identified notes from both workshops.​

It is important to note that, workshops may be conducted by the EPA with the assistance of a professional external facilitator and dedicated scribe. Given the development of the technical standards is subject to tight deadlines, workshops need to be managed to be time-efficient and outcome-focused. The scope of each workshop will be limited to dealing with the technical and scientific aspects of the subject matter. Industry, scientific organisations, community groups and other stakeholders will be able to nominate participants, however, the EPA will reserve the right to select suitable representatives and manage the size of workshop groups. Participation will be on a voluntary basis and will not attract reimbursement (financial or otherwise).

  • Workshop 1 participants (for industry, consultants, and scientific organisations) will be selected by the EPA based on demonstrated knowledge and practical involvement with the subject matter. 

  • Workshop 2 participants will be invited by the EPA based on their knowledge of the subject matter, as may be demonstrated through written submissions during the consultation phase in relation to a particular technical standard and an indication of interest and ability to contribute. 

To ensure the consultation process of the technical standards is transparent, the EPA will make public a summary of the consultation process, including all submissions, PowerPoint presentations, and minutes of the above workshops, noting that the EPA will consider requests for confidentiality of submissions supported by reasons.

Timeframes​​

Draft timeframes for consultation for each technical standards are set out below with a view to delivering the following technical standards by the end of the year:

​Technical Standard
​External Consultation Start Date (6 weeks)
​Soft Sediment V​​ideo Survey​
4 May ​2024
​Detailed Sediment Survey
​June 2024
​Water quality and investigative trigger values
​June 2024 - dependent on the establishment of a scientific advisory panel
​Reef Habitat Survey
​June 2024
​Establishment of reference conditions, environmental indicators, and reference sites
​August 2024
​Baseline Environmental Assessment Survey
​September 2024
​Broadscale Environmental Monitoring Programs
​September 2024
TPDNO
​November 2024
​Therapeutant Management
​December 2024
​Seagrass Habitat Survey
​​December 2024