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Okehampton Bay

​​​​​​​​​Marine Farming lease approval

Baseline Monitoring Survey, June 2017

Marine Farming Licence and Environmental Conditions

Monitoring Requirements

Independent monitoring undertaken by the EPA

​Annual Environme​ntal Report (AER)


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​ outlines 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 to be repeated to ensure that environmental conditions within and adjacent to the lease area were investigated prior to commencement of active farming. Another recommendation was for an ongoing far-field ambient monitoring program, consistent with contemporary Broadscale Environmental Monitoring (BEMP) requirements.

Baseline Monitoring Survey

A comprehensive baseline survey was conducted in June 2017 in accordance with the Director’s requirements. This included video surveys, benthic infauna sampling, threatened species survey, sediment chemistry and physical characteristics as well as mapping of reef and seagrass communities in the vicinity. The Baseli​​ne Environmental Assessment Final Report July 2017 was endorsed by the Director EPA prior to finfish farming commencing on the Okehampton Bay lease. ​

Marine Farming Licence


The marine farming aspects of the lease are regulated under Marine Farming Licence 236. Enquiries about marine farming licences should be directed to the Marine Farming Branch of ​​​DPIPWE. 

 

Environmental Licence


While environmental conditions were originally incorporated into the Marine Farming Licence, a separate Environmental Licence​ has subsequently been issued to regulate the environmental aspects of finfish farming at Okehampton Bay. The Environ​​mental Licence has been issued to Tassal, the actual operator of the finfish farming activity. Tassal conduct salmon farming on a portion of the lease under a sublease agreement with Spring Bay Seafoods. 


Key requirements of the Environmental Licence are comprehensive monitoring, preparation of publicly available Annual Environmental Reports and modelling of water dispersion and sediment distribution.

 

Monitoring Requirements

The scope of the extensive monitoring program introduced through the Environmental Licence includes water quality, benthic infauna and sediment monitoring as well as surveys of seagrass beds and reefs. Water quality monitoring is required at far-​​field (BEMP) sites as well as close to the lease boundary. The monitoring regime also includes biannual video surveys under pen bays and along the lease boundary, which is more frequent than for other marine farms.

The 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 previous scientific studies undertaken in the area. Data collected through the​​ program will provide early detection of potentially harmful effects and thereby provide opportunities for adaptive management practices.

Independent monitorin​g undertaken by the EPA

In addition to operational monitoring to be undertaken by Tassal, EPA has been conducting independent monitoring​​ of water quality around the Okehampton Bay since August 2017. The program scope is outlined in the document EPA Monitoring Program for O​kehampt​on Bay Marine Farm. Further information is available on the Monitoring Program page.

Annual Environmental Report (AER)

​The first Annual Environmental Report (AER)​ ​addressing the information requirements of the Environmental Lic​​​ence was submitted by Tassal in 2018.