Tassal to discharge waste back into Macquarie Harbour

Tasmania’s peak environment group will raise objections to Tassal’s proposal to discharge waste back into Macquarie Harbour, following the company’s application to the Commonwealth Government for approval under the EPBC Act to return the treated contents of its waste traps back into the damaged waterway. 

“It is perplexing that Tassal has applied to return the waste it has captured from the damaged Macquarie Harbour straight back into the Harbour,” says Laura Kelly, Strategy Director at Environment Tasmania.

“Based on the small amount of information provided, the contents of Tassal’s waste breaches the Tasmanian Government’s pollution limits for salinity, ammonia, nitrogen and biological oxygen demand,” Ms Kelly says. “And Tassal have provided no information on the level of antibiotics in the waste.”

Environment Tasmania will write to TasWater today to ask whether the high levels of pollutants in the waste are the reason TasWater has not allowed Tassal to utilise its existing waste discharge point at Strahan.

“We will be writing to TasWater to ask them if they have rejected this waste because it breaches the State Government’s pollution limits,” Ms Kelly said.

Environment Tasmania is concerned about the ongoing lack of transparent reporting about the performance of Tassal’s waste traps and the limited amount of information provided on waste discharge, given that this will occur in already compromised habitat for the endangered Maugean Skate.

“Seventy-seven Maugean Skate have been recorded within 10 kilometres of Tassal’s preferred waste discharge point. The entire reason this waste has been removed from the Harbour is to prevent further damage to the Skate and at this point, Tassal’s application has insufficient information to demonstrate that their waste will not cause further harm to oxygen levels and protected species in Macquarie Harbour,” Ms Kelly says.

There are just 3000 Maugean Skates left alive today. They are a ‘living fossil’ which date back to Gondwanan times and are found only in Tasmania.