Aquaculture for all

Expanding Industry Warrants More Public Support

PORT NEILL - The local community is being invited to comment on a draft aquaculture zone policy for Port Neill. Opportunities abound on the Eyre Peninsula, but communication links and resources need to be improved.

Residents and business interests have until the end of February to comment on the policy which will establish an aquaculture zone of around 5,642ha in the area.

The plans make way for a 565 hectares of finfish and mollusc aquaculture, and also include abalone and algae farming. A small section of this area will also be set aside for research and training purposes for tuna breeding and production, says the Eyre Peninsula Tribune.

A number of finfish leases already exist at Port Neill and the proposal allows for another 545ha to be allocated. This new policy also proposes a 3,683 ha aquaculture exclusion zone with a buffer zone between local aquaculture development, conflicting marine uses and significant conservation areas.

Most primary interests are in support of the policy. They say it will be instrumental to the future development of aquaculture in the region.

Infrastructure curbing progress

Mean while, in Arno Bay, Clean Seas chairman Hagen Stehr says aquaculture development is being hampered by limited road links and power resources. His fast-growing tuna and kingfish propagation facility is expanding at a phenomenal rate - well ahead of expectations. However, it will not be able to maintain growth without support from the State and Federal Governments, the community and council to help upgrade communications and resources.

"We're already producing 50t a week of kingfish in just the first few weeks of the new year. We were producing 300kg a week, three and a half years ago when we first came to Arno Bay. Now we're busting at the seams," he said.

The business says it need more housing, more locally-based employees and a much better local infrastructure

"We're spending a million dollars plus on the upgrade of the electricity into our hatchery later this year because we just can't expand anymore without that electricity," he added. "We're spending a lot of money on infrastructure costs that the Government and Council could be helping us with."

Clean Seas plans to employ another 30 to 40 people in 2008 at the Arno Bay facility and currently boasts a local workforce of around 65 people, many of whom have been sourced from Port Lincoln, interstate and even overseas, as well as the Eastern Eyre Peninsula.

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