The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has responded to a media inquiry regarding Macquarie Harbour salmon farming regulation with the following lines from the EPA Director, Mr Wes Ford:
• The biomass limit was set for the Summer of 2016/17 and expires on 30 April. However, there is no immediate short term impact of not having the biomass limit determined for a few weeks for the following reasons. The next biomass limit will apply to two factors, being: the peak biomass for the Summer of 2017/18, which is dominated by the 2016 year class fish that went into the Harbour in Spring 2016; and the 2017 class smolt allocation, which will not go into the Harbour until Spring 2017.
• The draft biomass determination issued on 29 November 2016 proposed a biomass limit of 14,000 tonnes for the Summer of 2017/18. The appropriateness of this biomass limit is currently being reviewed by the EPA after analysing the most recent scientific surveys and monitoring data.
• The EPA has been discussing a range of mitigation measures with Tassal regarding the 2016 year class fish that are in the Harbour and are likely to exceed the proposed biomass limit. This includes the collection of solid fish waste from under pens and the removal of fish faeces/excess feed from the sea floor directly under pens, involving the suction and containment of both solid and liquid waste for removal from the Harbour.
• There are no discussions with the EPA about dredging within the Harbour. Any action to collect fish waste would require specific approval by the EPA, and all assessment information will be made publicly available prior to any final approval being granted.
The specific media questions relating to this inquiry were:
• Given the release on Monday that it will be some weeks before a biomass decision is announced - does this mean from May 1 there will be no biomass limit on Macquarie Harbour until one is announced?
• Given that companies have already introduced their smolt to the harbour, is there a risk that the new biomass limit has been predetermined, or would the EPA require some fish be removed if the cap was breached?
• Has the EPA been in discussions in recent weeks with any companies about the possibility of dredging in the harbour?
• Would the EPA need to approve dredging before it occurred?
*In the interests of public disclosure and accurate reporting, the EPA Director makes available responses to media inquiries via the EPA website under News