The Department of Fisheries plans to identify and establish new aquaculture zones in the Mid West as part of a drive to provide an “investment- ready” industry.
Aquaculture zones will bring a flood of investment into the region, providing economic benefits to the community, according to WA Minister for Fisheries Norman Moore.
Under the plan, the WA Government has invested $1.6 million into aquaculture trials and is currently engaged in environmental approvals on behalf of the industry.
Mr Moore said there was a “huge potential” for aquaculture business off Geraldton that could be as big as the rock lobster industry in terms of tonnages per year.
“Aquaculture in WA hasn’t had a very successful history and one of the concerns is the effect of aquaculture on the environment,” he said.
“We’re keen to make sure that if people want to engage in aquaculture that they do so in an environmentally acceptable way and we’ve done all the work on their behalf.
“If our contribution can make life easier for these companies we may, in fact, establish a viable aquaculture industry.”
The Government’s plan will ensure multiple operations don’t affect the Mid West coastline or its fish stocks and environment.
It will involve expanding existing aquaculture zones off Geraldton and the Kimberley and trials have begun in these areas.
The Batavia Maritime Institute together with private industry has conducted trials of yellowtail kingfish over the past two years.
Challenger Institute of Technology, through its Australian Centre for Applied Aquaculture Research, cultured the juvenile kingfish used in the trial and provided scientific advice throughout the project.
The Department of Fisheries Fish Health Unit has also worked with Marine Fishfarmers Association and the Mid West Development Commission on farming yellowtail kingfish in sea cages off Geraldton.According to the Department of Fisheries, recreational fishing will still be permitted within the zones, so long as they don’t interfere with aquaculture operations.