Article by: Hari Yellina
The federal and state governments have agreed to collaborate on aquaculture studies in the Bass Strait. The agreement establishes a legal basis for conducting research in Commonwealth waters. Senator Jonathon Duniam of Tasmania and Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett of Tasmania both stated that the aquaculture business may study offshore locations. The Senator stated that new technology and industry practices are in the works, and that further research is needed to determine the economic, environmental, and operational viability of offshore aquaculture. “Focused study will offer the data we need to help understand the capabilities and potential benefits of aquaculture in greater seas further offshore,” he said. This strategy could serve as a model for future national aquaculture development in Commonwealth waters.
Senator Duniam stated that the Blue Economy Co-operative Research Centre was planning to move on with a proposal in the new agreement’s scope of coverage. Mr. Barnett stated that the state government would examine the study trial idea after consulting with the federal government. Before marine aquaculture research activities could begin, he said, proponents would need to conduct additional consultations and seek for a formal licence. “This agreement is a huge step forward for Tasmania, and it provides a fantastic opportunity for Tasmania to benefit from aquaculture research into finfish, seaweeds, shellfish, and other potential species in deeper, more exposed sites, as well as enable further advances in innovation and technology to support potential future aquaculture industries,” Mr Barnett said.
Any aquaculture study shall be conducted in compliance with Tasmanian regulations, and will be limited in scope, fixed-term, and conducted within a defined research region.” The most likely testing location, according to Mr Barnett, would be around 11 kilometres offshore from Burnie in Bass Strait. Last month, the Legislative Council approved a bill that would allow marine research in Commonwealth seas under state law. Opponents of the bill argued that it would pave the door for offshore fin-fish farms. Three MLCs on a Legislative Council committee investigating Tasmania’s fin-fish sector refrained from voting because the committee’s final report on the inquiry has not yet been formalised.