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Sea Cages for Port Stephens Trial Fish Farm

05 April 2012, at 1:00am

AUSTRALIA - AN experimental fish-farm could be established inside the Port Stephens marine park under a A$1.4 million NSW Department of Primary Industries plan.

Bluefin tuna, yellowtail kingfish and Mulloway fingerlings could be raised in a 20-hectare trial farm about four kilometres east-north-east of Hawks Nest, reports TheHerald.

That site is within a habitat protection zone of the marine park, which permits aquaculture.

Eight floating double-collared sea cages would be used under the five-year plan, which is described as the next step in Port Stephens Fisheries Institute's aquaculture research.
Documents with NSW Planning said the trial would determine whether there was commercial potential for species never raised in the state before.

"NSW aims to gain a significant portion of Australia's expanding aquaculture industry and sea cage culture is considered the most likely option for a new large-scale aquaculture industry in this state," the documents stated.

"Port Stephens is a key centre for aquaculture in NSW with a well-established edible oyster industry, barramundi, silver perch and freshwater crayfish production and marine and freshwater hatcheries."

Cages between 18 metres and 40 metres will contain fish weighing less than 12 kilograms per cubic metre, the outline states. They will be fed with commercial pellets.

A NSW Department of Primary Industries spokeswoman said extra staff would be needed for the project, but fishing would be mainly undisturbed in the area.

"While recreational fishing will not be banned in the lease area, it will be an offence to interfere with, or fish in the research cages," she said.

In it submission, the NSW Food Authority said it noted waste from the fish farm could have an impact on the nearby oyster industry.

"It was concluded that pollution impacts of waste from the fin fish lease would be minimal and can be managed under existing harvest area monitoring plans," the submission said.

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