Tassal raises concerns to authorities about biosecurity risks from “Ocean Monarch” oil rig

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White colonial sea squirt from rig could pose a threat, say Australia’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon.

Tasmania’s Environment Protection Authority [EPA] is considering its “legal requirements” after the owners of an oil drilling rig moored in Hobart refused access to inspect for marine pests, according to ABC news.

Biosecurity risks
Salmon farmer Tassal raised concerns to EPA about potential biosecurity risks the “Ocean Monarch” may pose.

“I’ve had a number of talks with Tassal over past few weeks … their concerns are two-fold — [that] any disease might affect salmon and whether it’s carrying any marine pests,” EPA director Wes Ford told the publication.

The white colonial sea squirt PHOTO fish.wa.gov.au

Sea squirt
The 107-metre-long, 21 thousand tonne rig was towed in to Hobart in early November for maintenance and minor repairs, not far from Tassal’s farming operations. It’s supposed to remain there anchored for 12 weeks.

The Environment Protection Authority [EPA] yesterday issued a new environment protection notice in respect to the Ocean Monarch.

The EPA are concerned about a marine pest called Didemnum perlucidum, also known as the white colonial sea squirt, that could be on the platform’s submerged sections.

Notice
“I think its important for us to be able to inspect the rig … because if it is carrying the marine pest then we can keep an eye on it over the next 10 years, even if it is there is no guarantee it would actually establish here,” he said. “Colonial sea squirt has been introduced into WA, and it is an invasive species.”

The EPA’s website states the notice was issued on the basis “the oil rig activity may cause serious or material environmental harm, or environmental nuisance”.

The grounds upon which the notice was issued states: “To correct errors and omissions” in the previous environmental protection notice.”

The rig owners have not yet given access to the EPA and Mr Ford said that he was looking at legal options.