In many of Tasmania’s coastal areas, marine farming is now a significant development activity. However, the nature of marine farming operations and the planning and regulatory framework governing these operations has meant that marine farming has also become a source of community concern. Concerns have included the possible impact of marine farming operations on marine ecosystems, loss of visual amenity, and noise pollution.
Marine farming is regulated under the Marine Farming Planning Act 1995 and the Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995. This Marine Farming Planning Act 1995 provides for the preparation of Marine Farm Development Plans, which identify suitable areas for marine farming and incorporate these areas into a marine farm zone.
Public meetings are held in relation to draft Marine Farming Development Plans (notice of the meeting will be advertised in the local newspaper),and draft plans are placed on public exhibition up to two months, during which time any person can make a representation or comment. A draft Plan must contain an Environmental Impact Statement (s23, Marine Farming Planning Act), outlining the expected environmental impacts of the proposed operations.
After the public comment period has expired, DPIPWE prepare a report for the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel. The Panel may hold public hearings in relation to the draft plan (or draft amendment to the plan), but it has no statutory obligation to do so. The Panel then makes a recommendation to the Minister regarding the draft. The Minister is not required to adopt the Panel’s recommendations, but must provide a statement of reasons to Parliament for any decision that is contrary to the Panel’s advice. There is no right of appeal against the Minister’s decision.
Importantly, land-based marine farming operations are still subject to planning schemes under Land Use and Planning Approval Act (LUPAA). Therefore, where issues relate to operations on land, there is recourse to the Tribunal through the Resource Management and Planning System (RMPS).