La­bor vows to fund hatch­ery

The Tatura Guardian - - News - By

A plan for an 80 ha na­tive fish hatch­ery for the re­gion is be­ing floated, should La­bor re­tain gov­ern­ment next month.

But Shep­par­ton fish­ing en­thu­si­ast and busi­ness owner Steve Threlfall said the plan was likely to cost more than the fund­ing ini­tially pledged.

A lo­cal coun­cil­lor mean­while an­tic­i­pated a flow-on eco­nomic im­pact from such a fa­cil­ity.

Vic­to­rian Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Jaala Pul­ford, in the re­gion on Thurs­day, said the pro­posal was ‘‘yet to set­tle on a par­tic­u­lar block of land’’.

But she ex­pected it would have 20 jobs in the re­gion at­tached.

‘‘The scale is mas­sive, 80 ha,’’ Ms Pul­ford said. ‘‘It’s go­ing to be big. We have a few lo­ca­tions in mind.’’

Ms Pul­ford said cli­mate and trans­port links pre­dom­i­nantly en­sured the Shep­par­ton re­gion was con­sid­ered for the pro­posal.

‘‘We do stock a lot of na­tive fish and we buy them in from NSW and we would rather not be do­ing that,’’ Ms Pul­ford said.

Mr Threlfall was op­ti­mistic the pro­posal was get­ting ‘‘closer and closer’’ to be­ing real, and said it was a pro­posal that­made sense for the Op­po­si­tion to com­mit to. ‘‘I think the fig­ure of $7 mil­lion falls a bit short of its real cost­ings,’’ Mr Threlfall said.

‘‘I think it’s a no-brainer to build one, even if it’s twice that much,’’ he said, given the quan­tity of fish cur­rently im­ported from in­ter­state.

Mr Threlfall said there would be a level of own­er­ship at­tached to lo­cals catch­ing fish from their own re­gion.

He ac­knowl­edged the an­nounce­ment ini­tially came as ‘‘a bit of a sur­prise’’, but said the prospect of ‘‘catch­ing the fish we breed in our lo­cal rivers’’ was a wel­come one.

‘‘It pumps up a bit of own­er­ship for what’s go­ing on,’’ he said.

‘‘You know it’s been lo­cally pro­duced . . . Sort of like an en­vi­ron­men­tal own­er­ship of what’s go­ing.

‘‘We’re hop­ing it gets bi­par­ti­san view, if there’s a coali­tion gov­ern­ment . . . if they win, that they would also want this.’’

Keen fish­er­man and lo­cal coun­cil­lor Den­nis Pat­ter­son said the re­gion ticked a few boxes as an ideal and ‘‘sen­si­ble’’ lo­ca­tion for such a fa­cil­ity to be es­tab­lished.

And he hoped the fa­cil­ity, if built, would have a sig­nif­i­cant flow-on im­pact.

‘‘It will em­ploy peo­ple, (and) flow through all our eco­nomic driv­ers . . .’’

The hatch­ery would serve to boost Vic­to­rian fish stocks with the re­gion’s warmer cli­mate hoped to al­low the new hatch­ery to fo­cus ef­forts on breed­ing ‘‘pop­u­lar warm wa­ter na­tive species, such as Mur­ray cod and golden perch’’.

It would guar­an­tee fish stock­ing lev­els with na­tive fish bred in Vic­to­ria, a state­ment from Ms Pul­ford said this month.

‘‘Our fish­ing in­dus­try is boom­ing, but Vic­to­ria is buy­ing around four mil­lion fish a year from in­ter­state sup­pli­ers to sup­ple­ment the close to 1.7 mil­lion fish bred at Vic­to­ria’s ex­ist­ing Snobs Creek hatch­ery each year,’’ the state­ment con­tin­ued.

At the time, Ms Pul­ford said the Vic­to­rian Fish­eries Author­ity was ex­am­in­ing ground­wa­ter avail­abil­ity, land op­tions and in­fras­truc­ture needs for the pro­posed new hatch­ery in the Shep­par­ton re­gion.

‘‘They have been work­ing closely with Goul­burnMur­ray Wa­ter and DEDJTR to pro­vide best op­tions for Vic­to­ria’s first ever ded­i­cated na­tive fish hatch­ery.’’

In Au­gust, State Mem­ber for Shep­par­ton Suzanna Sheed urged the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment to con­sider the Tatura Re­search Cen­tre as an ideal site for a new hatch­ery.

Fish re­lease: Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Jaala Pul­ford re­leases the first 20 of 70 golden and sil­ver perch.

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