Article – Kimberley aquaculture zone given environmental green light

19 February 2014
Tyne McConnon
ABC Rural

PHOTO: Barramundi, one of the fish that could be farmed in the Cone Bay aquaculture zone. (Reuters)

An aquaculture zone which will significantly increase fish production off the Kimberley coast in Western Australia is one step closer after it received environmental approval.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has given the green light for a Kimberley Aquaculture Development Zone north west of Derby.
The WA state government expects the 2,000 hectare zone could produce up to 20,000 tonnes of fin fish like barramundi per year.
The proposed plan in Cone Bay is now open for public comment before it’s presented to the state Environment Minister Albert Jacob for the final go a head.
The Department of Fisheries’ aquaculture manager Steve Nel says the zone was proposed because of industry interest.
“It provides an investment-ready platform that companies who want to come in, or existing companies who want to expand, can actually use.”
By zoning the region as a development area Mr Nel says the approval process will be significantly cut down.
“By having gone through this process it basically means companies can come in and instead of going through a process that can take two years they will effectively have to go through a process that will take six to eight weeks.”
He says the quicker approvals process s is expected to attract fishing operators.
“We have had some reasonably obvious interest from the company that is operating there at the moment that would like to expand its activities.
“We have also received, nothing substantial in writing at this stage, some expressions of interest from the eastern states.”
The EPA Chairman Paul Vogel says the zone allows for development but will also manage any potential impacts on the environment effectively.
Mr Nel says he believes the impact of the aquaculture project has been adequately researched.
“We have actually employed consultants to go out and do some fairly extensive sampling of the environment to establish what the baseline environmental parameters are.”.
“The models predicted that at full capacity the increase in nutrients (from the aquaculture operations) would be almost undetectable, and in some cases you couldn’t detect it at all.
“That’s due in part to the flushing capabilities, to the tidal currents which happen in the Kimberley, and to the comparatively small area of cages in relation to the overall size of the zone.”
The two week public appeal period will close on March the 4th.
Courtesy of ABC Rural