The Mid West Development Commission (MWDC) has welcomed the Statement of Commitment for Aquaculture by the State Government as a positive step in realising the aspiration for the industry’s future growth in the Mid West.
MWDC Chair the Hon Murray Criddle said the Mid West can play a major role in Western Australia’s potentially significant aquaculture industry.
“The Abrolhos Islands play host to a pearl industry along with coral and live rock farming and has potential for marine finfish, contributing to the diversity of aquaculture activities in the State,” Mr Criddle said.
“The Mid West region has demonstrated it can produce safe, high quality and sustainable seafood and aquatic food products and pearls.
“The greatest opportunity is for marine finfish aquaculture in the surrounding waters in Geraldton and the Abrolhos Islands. Such an industry will complement and further develop Geraldton’s sound marine services base.
“Geraldton has long been a fishing town and has a vast array of skills that can be harnessed and adapted to support a thriving aquaculture industry.
“The Commission has been working on the aquaculture industry in the region for a number of years and is currently working with local industry to trial Yellowtail Kingfish in the Mid West. A second proof of concept trial, supported by Royalties for Regions through the Mid West Investment Plan is scheduled to commence late 2015. It is anticipated that this will be the cornerstone to further development of industry in the region,” he said.
Mr Criddle also commented that Aquaculture was a broad industry involving many disciplines that needed to be accompanied by a high level of expertise, skills and scientific rigour.
“The Batavia Coast Marine Institute together with the private sector in Geraldton has played a major role in undertaking research for the industry through our trials. This demonstrates that an opportunity for training groups exists to align their courses and outcomes for students to help provide a skilled work force.
“The future benefits to the Mid West could be significant, from direct employment through to supporting of local service providers and businesses through the procurement of goods and services from engineering and maintenance services right through to fuel and feed supply.
“The announcement by the Premier will also inspire confidence both to the industry participants and potential investors, Mr Criddle said.
Local Mid West industry representative Erica Starling also supports the announcement.
“A key barrier to developing aquaculture in WA has always been access to long term, patient capital. As part of that investment process, the fundamentals of security of tenure and access to farm water are often the first points analysed,” Ms Starling said.
“The State Government’s commitment to the creation of aquaculture zones and areas of land that are suitable for and approved for aquaculture, along with longer term licences will assist in overcoming that hurdle,”
“Streamlining of our regulatory framework will allow for more certainty in investment planning. Our community needs to know and has a right to expect that aquaculture and its products are produced in an environmentally sound and responsible manner. A streamlined regulatory framework that is transparent and robust will offer confidence to the community and industry alike,” she said.