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November 24, 2008

 

Fish farm off Two Rocks promises seafood bounty

 
 

Australia's first open-ocean fish farm, off the coast of Two Rocks north of Perth, could be producing 100,000 tonnes of seafood a year within 5 years, a leading aquaculture body said yesterday.

 

Aquaculture Development Council board member Greg Jenkins said the pilot project with 170,000 yellowtail kingfish could pave the way for a bigger industry that would reduce Australia's dependence on imported fish.

 

Mr Jenkins said that they can have 100,000 tonnes of fish production coming out of that site. Not only can they have an export product to bring in revenue to the State, they can also supply fresh fish to locals.

 

At 10 nautical miles off the coast, the pilot stage of the farm will involve floating and submersible cages each holding up to 50,000 tonnes of the native yellowtail kingfish, renowned for its firm flesh with high levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids.


Today's (Nov 24) launch of the trial coincides with renewed concerns about the future of the local fishing industry, with fears that the population of five species of prized local fish, including dhufish, could collapse without tough restrictions on commercial and recreational fishermen.

   

Mr Jenkins said the State Government-funded council was bankrolling the 2-year 50ha trial, with Challenger TAFE providing the breeding stock.

 

But he said the bulk of the funding for the farm would eventually come from industry partners once it reached full commercial production.

 

As the first Australian fish farm based in the open sea rather than on-shore waters, Mr Jenkins said the Two Rocks site was ideal because the farm could be expanded without encroaching on areas that were environmentally sensitive or favoured by leisure or commercial boats.

 

He said 70 percent of fish on the Australian market were imported and if expanded the farm could produce fish for the local market, as well as for European and American consumers. Jenkins added that they do not have a lot of fish production in Australia.

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