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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Mid West aquaculture zone

The Mid West Aquaculture Development Zone is located across an area of open water between Geraldton and the southern region of the Abrolhos Islands group.

 
 

The 3,000 hectare zone is comprised of two parts, a northern area of 2,200 hectares and a southern area of 800 hectares, as shown on the Mid West Aquaculture Development Zone map.​

The southern area of the zone is subject to an existing aquaculture licence.

Aquaculture development zones provide ‘investment-ready’ platforms for setting up large-scale commercial aquaculture operations – or fish farms. The Government has done all the work up front to ensure that projects in the zone have an environmental seal of approval. This means investors can now secure environmental approval in a few months, rather than a few years, potentially saving more than $500,000 in costs.

Exhaustive site selection processes have determined that the Abrolhos Islands with its deep, well mixed waters and large areas of sandy benthic environment is a suitable location for a finfish aquaculture industry to develop.

The zone’s location, nearby the City of Geraldton, provides aquaculture operators with ready access to support infrastructure, downstream processing services and regular road and air freight services, which provide value-added services to the industry.

Environmental and technical studies, expert advice and ecosystem modelling have helped determine the capacity of the environment to support aquaculture and enabled appropriate management strategies to be developed.

The Environmental Protection Authority has assessed the strategic proposal and determined the zone will not put its environmental objectives at risk.

We will manage operations in the zone on behalf of the Minister for Fisheries through an integrated management framework, including the Fish Resources Management Act 1994, the Environmental Management and Monitoring Plan, and the Marine Fauna Interaction Management Plan​.

Vision for development

Aquaculture production systems in the zone will be in the form of conventional floating sea-cages, which use circular flotation rings to support nets that contain the fish being cultured. They also include robust external nets to exclude predators and minimise the risk of any adverse impacts on marine mammals, such as sea lions.

These systems are usually set within a grid pattern and anchored to the seabed.

Development proposals​ will support the culturing of any species of marine finfish that occur naturally within the Mid West region. The most likely species to be cultured initially is yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi).


 

Industry growth prospects

Aquaculture is an emerging industry that offers great potential for regional Western Australia.

The WA aquaculture​ industry, excluding pearling, generates $15 million in economic value annually. Subject to the aquaculture zones in the Mid West and Kimberley regions producing at or near capacity and other sectors growing to meet expectations, this figure is forecast to grow to over $600 million within the next decade.

The intent for the Mid West region is to obtain the optimum use of the available zone area, which will be shaped by a number of factors including the number, size and location of leases which will be established within the zones, as well as lease site separation and appropriate biosecurity measures.

The total allowable annual production of finfish inside the zone is set to an environmentally-acceptable maximum biomass (that is, the total weight of fish in the water) of 24,000 tonnes, which for a species such as yellowtail kingfish, is equivalent to an annual production or yield of 48,000 tonnes. This equates to an economic value of approximately $400 million.

Photos: Indian Ocean Fresh Australia Pty Ltd. ​

Last modified: 28/09/2017 4:05 PM

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