Macquarie Harbour Environmental and Fish Health Monitoring Review




Salmonid marine farming in Tasmania occurs under the provisions the Marine Farming Planning Act 1995 (MFPA) and the Living Marine Resources Management  Act 1995 and associated marine farming lease conditions, management controls and license conditions made pursuant to these acts. Under these instruments an Adaptive Management Framework (AMF) has been established to manage an industry that operates within a continually changing environment. The AMF involves a continuous and iterative process of decision making, monitoring and assessment to accommodate the dynamics of the industry and the environment.

In May 2012 the Minister for Primary Industries and Water approved Amendment No.1 to the Macquarie Harbour Marine Farming Development Plan October 2005. The amendment increased the available marine farming lease area from 564 ha to 926 ha which provided for a potential increase in salmonid production.

In 2014 assessment of data collected through statutory environmental monitoring and company-specific fish health monitoring for Macquarie Harbour identified the following issues:

  • When considered in the context of long term monitoring of data, water quality data collected through marine farming leaseholder monitoring requirements confirmed a decline in dissolved oxygen (DO) levels in the bottom waters of Macquarie Harbour.
  • Routine benthic monitoring since 2013 indicated an increase in the abundance and distribution of opportunistic polychaetes.
  • A divergence of views from salmon marine farming companies in relation to fish performance and fish health in the Macquarie Harbour.

Macquarie Harbour is subject to a range of environmental conditions that influence its hydrology, water quality and benthic environment, which makes the interpretation of these observations in the context of salmon production particularly complex.

Accordingly through the decision making phase of the AMF, DPIPWE and the salmon marine farming industry initiated a range of actions to consider these issues including the immediate progression of targeted research and increased levels of environmental monitoring in the Harbour on a spatial and temporal scale.

In conjunction with these management actions, the Department compiled a synthesis of available information in the form of a Status Report in early 2015 (see below) to further inform ongoing management. The Status Report presented available benthic, water quality and fish health data in the context of historic and current production levels in the Macquarie Harbour Marine Farming Development Plan area.

In April 2015 the Secretary commissioned the Cawthron Institute, in New Zealand to assess the data presented in the Status Report, together with any other relevant information and provide advice on the nature and adequacy of the monitoring and future research associated with benthic and water quality monitoring and fish health performance. The Terms of Reference (TORs) for this review were:

  • Are the current water quality and benthic monitoring regimes likely to be effective in detecting harbour wide effects related to salmonid farming?
  • What if any additional monitoring may inform management decisions associated with water quality parameters and potential benthic impacts?
  • Are the research responses that are currently being undertaken, or identified, appropriate to address the potential information gaps, particularly in relation to understanding the changes in benthic effects and the long term health of the sediments, and its ability to process the biological waste for the salmonid farming operations?
  • From the environmental data and fish health data (collected through the Area Management Agreement (AMA) fish health management program), are there any gaps in the monitoring regime or data collected that would be a barrier to understanding potential impacts of one company’s fish health profile on another company? Note additional data is held in an AMA database housed in the Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association (TSGA). Access to this information can be arranged through the TSGA.

The Cawthron Institute has now submitted its report - Cawthron Institute Report No. 2729 Macquarie Harbour Environmental and Fish Health Monitoring Review (see below). The Report is structured into three sections: Benthic Monitoring Review; Water Quality Review; Fish Health Performance and Monitoring.

In September 2015 DPIPWE prepared a response to the Cawthron Report (see below).

Cawthron Report

August 2015

  Macquarie Harbour Environmental and Fish Health Monitoring Review   (5Mb)


DPIPWE's Response to the Cawthron Report

September 2015

  DPIPWE Response to Cawthron recommendations September 2015   (271Kb)


Status of Macquarie Harbour

April 2016

  Macquarie Harbour Status Report Update - April 2016   (4Mb)

Addendum to the Macquarie Harbour Status Report September 2015

September 2015

  Addendum to the Macquarie Harbour Status Report 2015 September 2015   (3Mb)


Macquarie Harbour Dissolved Oxygen Work Group Update Report April 2015

April 2015 

  Macquarie Harbour Dissolved Oxygen Working Group Update Report April 2015   (12Mb)


Macquarie Harbour Status Report February 2015

February 2015

  Report on the Status of Macquarie Harbour   (5Mb)


Appendix 1

  Area Management Agreement Schedule 1 Fish Health Plan   (698Kb)

  Area Management Agreement Schedule 2 Health Certificate Template   (400Kb)

  Area Management Agreement Schedule 3 Environmental Management Plan   (912Kb)

  Area Management Agreement Schedule 4 Data Collection   (471Kb)

  Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association Biosecurity Program 2014   (4Mb)

Appendix 2

  EIS Appendices to accompany Draft Amendment 1 to Macquarie Harbour MFDP   (51Mb)

  Addendum to EIS of Draft Amendment 1 to Macquarie Harbour MFDP   (38Mb)

Appendix 3

  Macquarie Harbour Marine Farming Development Plan October 2005   (2Mb)

Appendix 4

  Australian Government referral decision on Macquarie Harbour   (159Kb)

Appendix 5

  Dissolved Oxygen Working Group Report Oct 2014   (6Mb)

Appendix 6

  A Review of Water Quality in Macquarie Harbour 2005   (1Mb)

Appendix 7

  Licence Conditions - Schedule 1   (147Kb)

  Licence Conditions - Schedule 3 relating to environmental management   (244Kb)

  Marine Farming Licence Conditions Schedule 3B - Baseline Environmental Survey   (150Kb)

  Licence Conditions - Schedule 3V Video Survey   (96Kb)

  Licence Conditions - Schedule 3 BEMP Water Quality Monitoring   (660Kb)

Appendix 8

  Macquarie Harbour Review Industry Report - Model Validation and Trigger Limits   (648Kb)

  Macquarie Harbour Review - Model Validation Information Pack   (19Mb)

Appendix 9

  EPA Dissolved Oxygen and Salinity Data Summary Dec 2014   (1Mb)

Appendix 10

  Disease Profile of Macquarie Harbour   (181Kb)

Appendix 11

  Research Paper - Environmental drivers of salmon behaviour - Oppedal et al   (14Mb)

  Research Paper - Effects of fluctuating sea cage environments - Oppedal et al   (6Mb)

  Research Paper - Chile ISA risk factors - Gustafson et al   (7Mb)

Appendix 12

  Copper in Macquarie Harbour   (78Kb)



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