The Australian Minister for the Environment, Tanya Plibersek, has sent a letter to the Tasmanian government warning that salmon farming operations in Tasmania's Macquarie Harbour could be temporarily halted, amid a push to protect the endangered Maugean skate.
The harbor is the only place on earth where this prehistoric species exists and experts warn the ancient fish is on the brink of extinction, threatened by poor water quality mainly associated with salmon farming, but also other uses. Macquarie Harbour is also home to a number of salmon farms belonging to Huon, Petuna and Tassal. Conservation advice said reducing salmon loads is the fastest and simplest way to fix the water quality problems but the industry has refused to do that.
Tasmania Premier Jeremy Rockliff reiterated his firm backing of the Tasmanian salmon industry and the more than 350 jobs that it supports. “Protecting and conserving the Maugean skate is important. That’s why last week we announced a $2.1 million Skate Recovery Fund to ensure its long-term survival. We absolutely believe that Skate and salmon can co-exist and we have been working closely with Salmon Tasmania, companies operating in the harbor and the national recovery team to develop a Conservation Action Plan. The work of the National Recovery Team will improve oxygen levels in Mac Harbour and until this work is completed and implemented, the minister should not prompt the outcome by reconsidering the EPBC Act.,” Rockliff said.