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EPA responds to media on Macquarie Harbour approval issues

The EPA Director, Mr Wes Ford has responded to additional media inquiries regarding approval issues, following his announcement of the final biomass determinations for Macquarie Harbour.

On 31 May, Mr Ford set the final biomass of 12,000 tonnes or 13 tonnes per hectare for the period from 31 May 2017 until 31 May 2018. He authorised Tassal to exceed this in order to grow 4,000 tonnes of its 2016 year-class fish to market size, on the proviso the company install an approved waste collection system which must capture 1.5 tonnes of fish waste for every tonne exceeding the 13 tonnes/ha limit.

Mr Ford’s statements in response to further media questions are provided below.

Questions on approval for waste collection proposal

• The management controls of the Marine Farming Planning Act 1995 allow the regulator to require any action to be subject to an approval requirement. In this case the Director has directed Tassal that the proposed activity will require specific approval.

• The activity was a marine farming activity under the Marine Farming Planning Act 1994, and hence did not need any approval under EMPCA.

• The EPA is not holding discussions with any of the companies about dredging the mouth of Macquarie Harbour.

• Tassal submitted its draft waste capture technology proposal to the EPA last Friday.

• The proposal is not being considered under the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA).

• Should the proposal form part of the biomass decision, it will be trialled under the Management Controls of the Marine Farming Development Plan.

• If it proceeds beyond trial, it would be managed under an Environment Protection Notice under EMPCA.

Questions on federal environment department investigations of Macquarie Harbour salmon farming

• The EPA Director is aware that there is an allegation about breaching the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBCA) as it is in the Federal Court action initiated by Huon Aquaculture against the Director, the Secretary of DPIPWE and the Federal Environment Minister.

• The EPA Director has not been provided a copy of the Department of Environment and Energy's response to the FOI request so is not in a position to comment on the story directly.

• It is Tassal’s responsibility, as the proponent, to seek EPBCA approval for Okehampton Bay.

• The EPA Director was advised last week that the draft report from the site inspection in February would not be released because it was part of the material to be submitted in the Federal Court action initiated by Huon Aquaculture against the Director, the Secretary of DPIPWE and the Federal Environment Minister.

• The Director has not seen the draft inspection report, nor been briefed on its content. Given the matter is before the Federal Court it is not appropriate to comment on the details of the story being run on the ABC this morning.

*In the interests of public disclosure, the EPA makes responses to media inquiries available via the EPA website under the News section.