Declared by the Minister for Fisheries in August last year (2014), it is the first aquaculture development zone to be established in Western Australia.
Aquaculture Manager Steve Nel said the zone at Cone Bay, approximately 215 kilometres north/north-east of Broome, would suit commercial-scale aquaculture operations.
“The Department of Fisheries is now inviting applications from interested parties for aquaculture licences and leases within the zone, which already has strategic environmental approvals and management policies in place,” Mr Nel said.
“This means operations can be started without the need for what can often be lengthy and complex environmental approval processes.”
Mr Nel said the zone was a proven location for the production of tropical marine finfish.
“An existing barramundi farm, which operates within the zone’s boundaries, currently occupies about 700 hectares of the total area of 2000 hectares,” he said.
“The establishment of additional commercial marine finfish aquaculture projects within the zone is not expected to cause a significant environmental impact, due to the zone’s physical characteristics.
“There are high rates of water exchange in Cone Bay, sufficient to disperse and dilute nutrients before they are assimilated by the ecosystem and adaptive management controls and environmental monitoring have also been developed for the zone.”
Mr Nel said in August this year the WA Government had announced a formal Statement of Commitment for Western Australia's aquaculture industry, recognising it as a legitimate user of the State's land and aquatic resources.
“The State Government is keen to stimulate investment in aquaculture, to help expand the range of aquaculture opportunities in WA,” he said.
“In particular, we are working with industry to ensure certainty of access to aquatic resources, developing investment-ready aquaculture zones, continuing to reduce unnecessary regulation and providing strong fish health capability and services."
For more information about the Kimberley Aquaculture Development Zone, the call for applications for licences and leases within the zone and the process that will be used to allocate sites, visit www.fish.wa.gov.au/aquaculture.