Fish farm opponents continue fight in Burnie, Stanley, gov denies secret plans

STILL FIGHTING: Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan in Burnie on Saturday. Picture: Eve Woodhouse
STILL FIGHTING: Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan in Burnie on Saturday. Picture: Eve Woodhouse

We have a voice, and we shall prevail.

That's the message outspoken fish farming opponent and Toxic author Richard Flanagan shared as he took to the stage in Burnie on Saturday at a community session against proposed offshore salmon farms planned for the North-West.

He said it was pivotal that the community stood up and fought loudly against the proposed developments.

Picture: Eve Woodhouse

Picture: Eve Woodhouse

"Sea-based salmon farming is no more or less than a floating sewerage farm," he said. "Except the sewerage is left to pour raw and untreated into our oceans."

"I want to tell you today that unless you stand up and fight, this is coming for you. And that Petuna's plans are just the thin edge of the wedge."

Mr Flanagan claimed to have seen a 'secret map' which showed significant new areas of Tasmania's coastline open up to potential industrial fish farming and aquaculture development.

This claim was echoed by the Tasmanian Alliance for Marine Protection.

"Tasmanians are better than this," Mr Flanagan said.

"Whatever your politics, your background, we share a belief that this island and us are joined. We will not allow what we love to be destroyed."

Premier Peter Gutwein denied there was a hidden agenda to expand salmon fishing beyond what was already public knowledge.

NOT HERE: Richard Flanigan, Sheenagh Neill, Essie Davis and Justin Kurzel, who were all guest speakers. Picture: Eve Woodhouse

NOT HERE: Richard Flanigan, Sheenagh Neill, Essie Davis and Justin Kurzel, who were all guest speakers. Picture: Eve Woodhouse

"There is no secret salmon plan," Mr Gutwein said. "What's on the public record is exactly what's occurring. There is a marine spatial planning exercise underway.

"That's been talked about for the last 12 - 18 months. And obviously, Petuna in the North-West, have an exploratory permit. There's nothing more to it than that," he said.

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The community information session was hosted by NWTas for Clean Oceans, a community group now formally launched, in opposition to ocean fish farming.

Clean Oceans secretary Trisch Brady said the more informed Tasmanians were, the more power they had.

"(This weekend) is about providing information for, if more ocean-based farming goes ahead, what will happen to our ecological and social systems, the damage that will be done to marine and riverine estuaries," Ms Brady said.

Guests listen on. Picture: Eve Woodhouse

Guests listen on. Picture: Eve Woodhouse

"What we're hoping is that people will be informed.. and realise there is a structure where we can express our views and inform the government that we don't agree (with the plans)," she said.

"People have to have a voice. We elect these people, they are our representatives.

"Nothing happens unless people have their voice heard, and make themselves known."

The group is currently seeking a moratorium on the expansion of the fish farming industry, and is expected to present a petition against ocean farming to the Legislative Council in the near future.

Petuna CEO Ruben Alvarez said he was aware of the meetings planned around the Coast over the weekend.

Other guests speakers. Picture: Eve Woodhouse

Other guests speakers. Picture: Eve Woodhouse

"We are keeping the community informed about our proposal in the north west," he said.

"The proposed area is an offshore, high energy site more than 12km from the nearest shoreline with strong current flow and favourable environmental conditions for salmon farming.

"We know from out discussions with locals in the community that there is some misinformation circulating about our proposal and we would encourage anyone with concerns to contact us directly at admin@petuna.com."

This story Author Richard Flanagan tells community 'we shall prevail' in fish farm fight first appeared on The Examiner.