An interim report published today by the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) shows how maugean skate numbers have almost halved between 2014 and 2021. There has also been a decrease in the numbers being caught per effort, and an increase in the average size of females caught which means there are less juveniles either being born or surviving into adulthood.
The situation is so dire that a captive breeding program is being planned. Reduced oxygen levels in Macquarie Harbour are being cited as a major reason for the skate's demise, and one of the major contributors to low oxygen is the presence of the salmon industry.
"The situation for the maugean skate is really very dire and without drastic action, Tasmania will have the grim record of the second bony fish extinction in the world on its record, after the smooth handfish. Not only would the extinction of the maugean skate be an absolute tragedy for Tasmania, but it would also be an embarrassment to federal environment minister Tania Plybersek who pledged zero extinctions on her watch" says Rebecca Howarth, Marine Campaigner for Environment Tasmania.
"The presence of the salmon industry has contributed to reduced oxygen levels in Macquarie Harbour pushing the especies to the brink of extinction. This is compounded by warming waters and the only solution is to rest Macquarie Harbour of salmon pens to allow the iconic species to recover."
"The responses from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (NRET) do not go nearly far enough. Reducing the feed allowance of salmon farms in Macquarie Harbour by 10% and forming working groups is too little too late. This is not decisive action to ensure the survival of an endangered species. This is yet another example of the Tasmanian government pandering to industry. The solution is to rest Macquarie Harbour entirely to allow the species to recover."
"We support the application of the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) and Humane Society International Australia to have the maugean skate upgraded from endangered to critically endangered. We urge Ms Plybersek to intervene to ensure the survival of this iconic and ancient species."
MEDIA CONTACT: REBECCA HOWARTH 0493 395868