Federal Court challenge to Commonwealth decision to approve Tassal fish farm

A unique combination of tourism and environment groups have today filed proceedings in the Federal Court challenging the Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg's failure to adequately assess Tassal's proposed Atlantic salmon fish farm at Okehampton Bay, on Tasmania's east coast.

The court action against Tassal and the Commonwealth is being taken by the Bob Brown Foundation, Spring Bay Mill Pty Ltd and Triabunna Investment Pty Ltd. The latter two firms are developing tourist facilities at the former Triabunna woodchip mill site, near Okehampton Bay and adjacent to Tassal's proposed shore base.

The parties are seeking an order for the Minister to provide reasons for his decision on 1 August 2017 to effectively give the go-ahead. 

Dr Brown said it was hard to fathom why the Minister hadn't required Tassal to refer their proposed shore base, dam and associated water pipe line for assessment when it was an essential part of the proposed farm.

"The fact that the Minister's department hasn't provided the reasons for his decision to us, something they are legally obligated to provide, raises even more questions.”

"We've asked the Court to hear this matter urgently, as Tassal have already commenced operations in Okehampton Bay.”

"Given Tassal's now well-documented failures in Macquarie Harbour, failures that neither the Commonwealth or Tasmanian Government's have sought to fix, and their need to relocate thousands of seals each year, people are rightly concerned.”

"This is just the latest example of the secrecy and indifference to community concern from both Tassal and the Minister - is it any wonder this project never secured a social licence?"

The litigants are also seeking an order that sets aside Mr Frydenberg's decision on the basis he did not deal with the matter properly and should have examined the whole project, not just the sea based component.

The relevant papers are being served on Tassal and the Minister today.

The case has been listed for a preliminary hearing in Hobart on 13th September at 10.15 in Hobart at the Commonwealth Law Courts Building.


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  • commented 2017-09-08 21:15:36 +1000
    The arrogance of Tassal and the federal and state governments’ decision making processes need to be challenged. Well done and all the best with the case, We need to win this one to protect Okehampton Bay and the future of all Tasmanian coastal waters and native marine life.