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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Frequently asked questions – Kimberley Aquaculture Development Zone

​Why have we established an aquaculture zone?

The Western Australian Government is committed to the development of a sustainable marine aquaculture industry. Establishing aquaculture development zones for marine finfish provides opportunities for existing aquaculture operations to expand and new aquaculture operations to be created in Western Australia. This will provide significant economic benefits to the local community through job opportunities and regional economic diversification.

Why in the Kimberley?

The Kimberley Aquaculture Development Zone (KADZ) builds on the proven success of an existing operator, Marine Produce Australia, as a location that is suitable for marine finfish aquaculture production.

How big is the zone?

The zone covers almost 2,000 hectares of the waters of Cone Bay. (Actual area is 1,993.5 hectares)

How many licences have been granted in the zone?

This zone is now fully allocated. After assessing two aquaculture applications, we have granted one new licence and varied another licence for an existing operator, allowing its operation to expand. The intent was to obtain the optimum use of the available zone area. The number, size and location of leases established within the zone was influenced by several factors including the size of individual proposals and site separation for biosecurity purposes. Visit site allocation for more information.

Does the zone include Turtle Island?

No, the zone boundary only extends to waters up to the High Water Mark on Turtle Island.

Who manages the zone?

The Department manages operations in the zone on behalf of the Minister for Fisheries.

How is the zone managed?

The zone is managed through an integrated management framework consisting of several key components. The core of the framework is the zone Management Policy, developed as part of the strategic environmental assessment approval process of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). This includes monitoring for compliance with environmental monitoring plans, as well as aquaculture licence and lease conditions.

What difference does the approval of the strategic environmental assessment make?

A strategic environmental assessment assesses the cumulative environmental impact of large-scale projects and supports sustainable development. The assessment is conducted by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). It is designed to ensure all environmental concerns, including potential cumulative effects of multiple operations in the location, are considered and incorporated in environmental management plans. 

Declared aquaculture development zones help streamline the approvals processes for commercial aquaculture projects within the zoned areas and provide an 'investment ready' platform for prospective local and international investors.

How is this helping investors set up aquaculture ventures?

Strategic environmental assessment approval for the zone has led to a faster, easier and less expensive approval process for proponents of aquaculture ventures in this zone.

What kind of aquaculture systems are used?

Conventional floating sea-cages, which use circular flotation rings to support nets that contain the fish being cultured. These systems are usually set within a grid pattern and anchored to the seabed.

What species of marine finfish are cultured in the zone?

Any species of marine finfish that occur naturally within the Pilbara and Kimberley region may be cultured in the zone. The most likely species are barramundi (Lates calcarifer) and cobia (Rachycentron canadum).

What limits apply to the annual production of marine finfish from the zone?

The total allowable annual production of finfish inside the zone is set to an environmentally-acceptable maximum limit of 20,000 tonnes.

Is the zone marked?

The on-water boundary of the zone is not be marked as passage within the zone is non-exclusive, that is, not restricted to aquaculture operators. However, the Department of Transport requires sea-cages to be marked with lights and signs to aid navigation.

I’m a commercial fisher – how does the zone affect me?

It is unlikely that commercial fishing will be impeded. You may fish inside the zone, providing you fish outside of the sea-cages and do not interfere with aquaculture gear, including markers and anchors, or aquaculture stock. At full capacity, the sea-cages will take up less than five per cent of the surface area of the zone.

I’m a recreational fisher – how does the zone affect me?

It is unlikely that fishing will be affected. You may fish inside the zone, providing you do not disturb or interfere with aquaculture gear or aquaculture stock. At full capacity, the sea-cages will take up less than five per cent of the surface area of the zone.

I’m a traditional owner in this area – how does the zone affect me?

It is unlikely that you will be affected. You may continue to conduct traditional activities, including fishing and hunting inside the zone, providing you do not disturb or interfere with aquaculture gear or aquaculture stock. There are also potential opportunities for Indigenous people to be involved in the zone, including in the areas of employment and training.

I’m in the tourism business – how does the zone affect me?

The establishment of the zone does not affect your access to this area, or your activities inside or outside the zone. In fact, the zone is likely to increase tourism opportunities by providing additional features of interest.

How are the environmental values of Cone Bay being protected?

Environmental and technical studies, expert advice and ecosystem modelling have helped determine the capacity of the environment and enabled appropriate management strategies to be developed.  

Last modified: 21/02/2017 11:57 AM

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