Tassie fish farmer nets WA venture
Report harm to animals
HUON Aquaculture is the latest aquaculture business to expand interstate, announcing a massive investment in a yellowtail kingfish farm venture off Western Australia.
Huon Aquaculture chief executive Peter Bender said a 2200ha site near the Houtman Abrolhos Islands off Geraldton in the state’s mid-north had been secured.
It follows Tassal’s $34 million investment in three prawn farms in North Queensland.
The diversifying of investments by the Tasmanian fish farmers follow increasing community opposition to Atlantic salmon farm expansion in Tasmanian waters, especially in the wake of the damaging Macquarie Harbour overstocking problems.
Mr Bender said the Mid West Aquaculture Develop- ment Zone would not be used until Huon had developed a shore base, had set up a nursery and had undertaken extensive stakeholder and community engagement.
It hopes to have fish in the water in two years, and eventually produce 10,000 tonnes of yellowtail kingfish a year.
The WA Government expects the venture to create more than 100 direct jobs by 2022 and by 2030 potentially more than 3000 direct and indirect jobs.
“We are excited to begin a new chapter as we look towards commercially farming yellowtail kingfish,” he said.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said his state had some of the nation’s best aquaculture growth opportunities.
“That is something that Huon has recognised with their substantial investment towards a large-scale yellowtail kingfish farm,” he said.
“The zone’s location off the Geraldton coast gives Huon access to infrastructure, support services and freight options that in turn will help create additional indirect jobs.”
Mr Bender said the investment came after a successful kingfish trial with the NSW Department of Primary Industries in Providence Bay.
“The trial has proven that not only is it possible to grow kingfish in warm water, but the fish are an exceptional quality and grow very well,” he said.
“This, along with Western Australia having an abundance of suitable lease space, and being open to investment, signals the start of a long and beneficial relationship.”
Mr Bender said Huon would take its time to work with the local government to identify suitable locations for the shore base and new nursery.
“We will then install equipment on the lease in preparation for our very first batch of Western Australian-grown kingfish,” he said.
“As this is a greenfield zone, we have an unprecedented opportunity to set up our operations in a way that has strong foundations in biosecurity, which will safeguard not only our future operations, but also those of the nearby farm.”
THE State Government wants anyone with evidence of seal deterrents being misused by Tasmanian fish farmers and causing harm to the marine animals to make a report.
Animal liberationists yesterday called on RSPCA Australia and the World Wildlife Fund to cut their ties with Tasmania’s fish farmers on the back of claims seals are being harmed by the nonlethal bullets fired to scare them away from salmon pens.
DPIPWE documents have shown that more than 8700 beanbag bullets had been fired at seals around fish farms in Tasmania since 2013.
Animal liberationists and the Tasmanian Greens also claimed seals have been shot at close range and blinded.
DPIPWE data shows underwater “crackers” are also used to scare the seals away from fish pens.
Beanbag shots are a plastic shot cartridge containing a fabric bag filled with hard pellets, and “crackers” are an underwater acoustic explosive that sends out a shockwave.
Animal Liberation Tasmania says the RSPCA needs to revoke or suspend its welfare accreditation of certain aquaculture companies in light of the practices.
The World Wildlife Fund is also under pressure to walk away from its sponsorship of Tassal. The WWF said it was “deeply concerned” about the reports and was “holding discussions with Tassal over its seal and salmon management activities”.
In September last year, the State Government stopped fish farmers in Tasmania’s South from relocating rogue seals to the North-West after an outcry from fishermen.
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said it was time for the Government to stop the industry shooting, shocking, blinding and deafening seals.
A government spokesman said animal welfare was an important condition of applying to use any of the authorised seal deterrent techniques.
“If anyone has information in relation to inappropriate use of deterrents or animal welfare concerns, I encourage them to report it to DPIPWE or the RSPCA for investigation,” he said.
The Mercury approached RSPCA Australia for comment.