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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has confirmed new aquaculture regulations being introduced to protect the Great Barrier Reef will take effect from tomorrow. (February 23).
The new regulations, under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act, will close a loophole in Queensland legislation. This has allowed some environmentally significant aquaculture developments adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef to avoid requirements for a full and transparent environmental assessment.
The need for a Commonwealth safety net has been highlighted by the Armstrong Beach aquaculture proposal near Mackay. In that case, although the waste would have flowed into the Marine Park, the Queensland government approved the project without a proper public environmental assessment.
Senator Hill said the new regulations close the loophole by providing that projects that are not adequately regulated by Queensland cannot discharge waste without a permit from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).
A rigorous and transparent environmental impact assessment will be required before any permit decision is made. A permit from GBRMPA will not be required for existing aquaculture operations and the regulations will not apply to any other industry.
The regulations will apply only to aquaculture discharges which may pollute the Marine Park in a manner that is harmful to animals and plants of the Marine Park. They will only apply to new aquaculture operations and not to any other industry.
Senator Hill said the new regulations would allow for the development of aquaculture while protecting the Great Barrier Reef.
"They will protect investment and jobs by ensuring environmentally sustainable development of the industry adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef," Senator Hill said.
Media contact: Rod Bruem 02 6277 7640 0419 258 364