As part of its commitment to developing a sustainable marine aquaculture industry, the State Government is establishing aquaculture development zones for marine finfish.
An aquaculture development zone is a designated area of water selected for its suitability for a specific aquaculture sector (in this case, marine finfish).
Two zones are being established: one in the Kimberley, which has now been declared; and one in the State’s Mid West. The aim is to make it faster, less costly and more efficient to set up aquaculture businesses.
The zones will provide opportunities for existing aquaculture operations (fish farms) to expand and new ones to be established, providing economic benefits to the local community through job creation and regional economic diversification.
Aquaculture zones provide ‘investment ready’ platforms with strategic environmental approvals and management policies already in place, allowing commercial aquaculture operations to be set up without the need for lengthy, complex and expensive approval processes.
These zones will improve the protection of environmental and cultural values. Extensive studies and modelling will underpin the approval of a zone to ensure the potential effects of aquaculture are identified, well understood and managed. A zones approach allows the consideration of cumulative impacts, rather than assessing impacts on a case-by-case basis as applications are received or expansion occurs.
Fish farms will only cover a small part of a zone and won’t restrict local activities – people will be allowed to access the zone as long as they don’t interfere with the aquaculture gear or activity.
We will manage operations in each zone on behalf of the Minister for Fisheries through an integrated management framework. The core of this framework will be the Zone Management Policy, developed as part of the strategic environmental assessment process of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
The assessment process involves collecting baseline data over a full year, a detailed analysis of the data and modelling to predict the likely environmental impact in different scenarios. This approach allows cumulative impacts to be considered and managed.
The framework also includes associated documents: the Environmental Monitoring and Management Plan (EMMP); Ministerial Statement; notices; aquaculture licence; aquaculture lease; and the Management and Environment Monitoring Plan (MEMP).
The policy covers strategic issues unlikely to change quickly while the associated documents are adaptable for flexible management. Together, they aim to:
• establish an overarching, integrated structure for managing aquaculture;
• provide clear, efficient and effective processes for monitoring, evaluating and reporting;
• guide the development of finfish aquaculture; and
• ensure adaptive management for continual improvement.
The policy and documents ensure we can enforce the requirements of approvals under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 and make it possible to ensure operations comply with the relevant provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1986.
You can be involved
You can be involved in this project by providing feedback or taking part in the consultation process.