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Big Increase Planned for Aquaculture off Western Australia

Lucy Towers
22 August 2014, at 1:00am

AUSTRALIA - The State Government has paved the way for a huge increase in fish production on Western Australias northern coast by declaring a development zone for large-scale fish farms.

Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said the new zone, covering almost 2,000 hectares near Broome, would support production of up to 20,000 tonnes of fish per year - up from the current tonnage of 7,000 tonnes.

At Cone Bay to declare the Kimberley Aquaculture Development Zone open, Mr Baston said an existing barramundi farm could soon be joined by other commercial developments.

Comprehensive studies confirm the zone’s capacity to support the annual production of up to 20,000 tonnes of finfish without significant environmental impact.

“By starting a fish farm in a declared zone, operators do not need to spend years and hundreds of thousands of dollars on environmental approvals and consultation, because these approvals have already been done by the State Government,” the Minister said.

At a special signing ceremony, Mr Baston said such zones would provide an economic boost for WA, with ‘investment ready’ locations and more jobs on offer sooner.

Fulfilling an election promise, the State Government has invested A$1.85 million into developing the zone at Cone Bay and a second off the Mid-West coast.

The strategic approach allows consideration of cumulative environmental impacts, which may not be apparent with case-by-case assessments. Extensive studies and modelling have assessed the potential effects of large-scale aquaculture.