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Living Marine Resources Management Amendment (Aquaculture Research Bill) 2021 (No 58)

Second Reading Speech, Wednesday 9 March 2022

[12.16 p.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, firstly, I thank the Leader's office for arranging the briefings today from all sides. The briefings helped me to better understand and contextualise the need for the legislation and the legal framework that it creates.

I was going to read in some of the emails, but I won't now, because they were very well referred to by the member for Mersey. I thank him for that.

Offshore aquaculture has a significant place in a country like Australia. For an island state like Tasmania, it is even more integral to realising our potential - not only as a place of sustainable and responsible maritime ecological development, but also as a leader in research and commercial development. I believe this is an important bill for research into offshore aquaculture production.

In order to do this, we need to ensure that robust legal and regulatory frameworks are in place, especially as they relate to operations occurring in Commonwealth waters. Having consistent and uniform legislation reduces confusion and creates certainty, not just for our maritime research sector, but also for our commercial aquaculture industry. The alternative would be to not pass this legislation and be left far behind.

I understand that this is about allowing the Tasmanian Government to enter into agreement with the Commonwealth and provide an ability for the Tasmanian Government to regulate in Commonwealth waters. Without this ability, we can't do the research.

We heard from the CEO of the Blue Economy CRC, Dr John Whittington - and I am pleased to note its head office is located in Launceston - that they cannot apply for a permit until they know what the legislation looks like. The same goes for consulting. It is hard to consult until they know what they are actually seeking a permit for, until the legislation is there; and this bill provides certainty.

Being concerned with our precious maritime ecosystem, I entirely understand the concern of some in the community, about ensuring that it is properly looked after. I believe this can only be done if we have responsible legal frameworks in place to allow research to occur. I have confidence this bill provides that.

To best look after our unique environment, we need to understand it - especially in times where our climate is changing and we need to adapt and, in some cases, intervene. Understanding the environment is part of the research. At the moment, all they can do are observational things.

I am confident this bill provides a first step towards creating a responsible framework for a research sector to grow sustainably, and to operate within the waters around our island state. This bill is concerned with creating a legal system within which we can better understand our maritime ecology - how we can grow it, protect it, and create opportunities which all Tasmanians can share. In my understanding, this bill is about research permits and not commercial permits.

In researching this bill and gaining knowledge from the briefings and talking with stakeholders, I formed the belief that the best way we can protect and grow our aquaculture sector is through better understanding it. The best way we can proceed with this is through passing the bill and joining with the Commonwealth and other coastal Australian jurisdictions in creating this legal framework within which to operate. Otherwise, we risk being left behind and potentially letting our state, and our waters, down. A lot of the emails opposed seem to believe this was about commercial salmon farming and industrial fish farms. As we have heard today, it is not, it is about research. I have no reason to doubt this, or to doubt the people who were speaking to us this morning.

I believe it was Dr Whittington who mentioned when they are doing the research out on the water, it is on a small scale and then they multiply the factors up to get the results. It is certainly not anywhere on the lines of commercial farming. As mentioned earlier, it is an enabling act, setting principles in place. It cannot be for commercial return. This bill does not give a green light to offshore commercial farming. I support the bill.


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