Southern bluefin tuna is now being raised at Port Stephens Institute. (Photo: dpi.nsw.gov.au/FIS)
NSW lodges application for southern bluefin tuna project
Friday, October 28, 2011, 23:30 (GMT + 9)
The New South Wales (NSW) Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has submitted a project application with the Department of Planning and Infrastructure to set up a research lease off Port Stephens to extend its marine hatchery research.
Key species proposed for this work include yellowtail kingfish and southern bluefin tuna, both of which are now being raised at the Port Stephens Fisheries Institute under an Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) programme.
The DPI wants to establish a 20 ha lease off Hawks Nest for five years with the goal of using its research to prove species suitability, validate equipment and technology and conduct environmental impact assessment. The department said it hopes this research gets linked again to the CRC, which currently has a research partnership with DPI and Clean Seas Tuna Limited to develop hatchery technology for southern bluefin tuna.
Aquaculture Manager Ian Lyall hopes that even though previous aquaculture ventures have failed, this project will back up the commercial viability of marine finfish farming, ABC reports.
"We had a couple of aquaculture projects in the region that haven't proceeded as we thought they may have, that's true," he said. "I guess for us to take that risk to do that proof of concept is probably important to show that we can undertake this activity sustainably.”
"That may give a signal to others that may want to invest in NSW waters that there is an opportunity," he continued.
Lyall added that he is confident the aquaculture farm will not harm the environment and that there will be a painstaking environmental assessment with community input.
"It gives us a chance not only to prove the species and the equipment that's used but also to undertake the necessary environmental monitoring to ensure we're not impacting the environment,” he added.
In order to obtain approval for this project, DPI must prepare a detailed environmental assessment document and request input from other agencies, the latter of which has already been done.
“We hope to have the full application and environmental assessment completed by the New Year,” DPI wrote in a statement. After that point, the application will go through a period of public exhibition in 2012.
The department has already started advising people of the project to ensure that local stakeholders are aware of it. DPI will try to cover government, Council, environmental and community groups, waterway users and others that may have an interest in this project.
By Natalia Real