Feds snubbed over fish farms

IN a move that has upset state Greens, the NSW Government is planning to install floating fish farms in the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park – without federal approval.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries has plans to install up to eight floating cages in the marine park to test the viability of offshore fish farming. Under federal law, projects likely to have affect a threatened species must be submitted to the Commonwealth for review.

The Greens claim the controversial fish farm proposal will affect threatened great white sharks which are known to be active in the area.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the federal Environment Department has written to the state department to remind it of its ”obligations under national environment law”. ”Substantial penalties” could apply to projects that did not have approval, it said.

But a spokesman for the state department said the project did not require appraisal and it would not be seeking approval. The plan would not affect great white sharks, he said, ”given the small-scale, short-term nature of the proposal and various mitigation measures to be implemented”.

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said great whites could be attracted to fish farms where ”conflicts” with humans could arise, and the farm could pollute a nearby shark nursery.

She called on the government to take a ”precautionary” approach and seek approval.

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