May 20, 2023
Western Australia cancels yellowtail kingfish nursery after Huon Aquaculture agreement falls through
The state government of Western Australia has made the decision to cancel its AUD 10 million (~US$6.6 million; AUD 1 = US$0.66) yellowtail kingfish nursery project in Geraldton, citing a lack of commitment from Huon Aquaculture, SeafoodSource reported.
The nursery, which was initially announced in 2019, was intended to support Huon Aquaculture's expansion into the region, as the Tasmania-based company planned to establish new farms there. After rejecting proposals from private firms, the government took on the responsibility of building the facility itself.
Recent reports reveal that plans for the hatchery have been abandoned due to Huon Aquaculture's failure to commit to the expansion in Geraldton. Western Australia Fisheries Minister Don Punch expressed disappointment, stating that without Huon's participation, there is no demand for a finfish nursery.
While Huon has not definitively stated that they will not proceed, they have not provided any information or responded to requests for clarification, prompting discussions about the future of the lease.
The idea for the nursery emerged after Western Australia established the Mid West Aquaculture Development Zone in 2017, a designated area between Geraldton and the Abrolhos Islands intended to facilitate large-scale aquaculture investments.
The West Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development said that the government had already undertaken extensive environmental assessments, streamlining the approval process for potential aquaculture projects in the zone.
Despite the government's efforts, the region has not seen the anticipated development of yellowtail kingfish aquaculture. Indian Ocean Fresh Australia (IOFA), the only active farmer in the area, announced in September 2020 that it would pause production due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. IOFA has yet to resume operations, and in 2021, the company expressed disillusionment with the state government. IOFA culled their broodstock after learning that the government was planning a land-based aquaculture project with another company for the region.