By Nigel West
Finfish aquaculture has the potential to be a major and increasingly important industry in Western Australia (WA); however, the requirement for start-up aquaculture operators to undertake a number of Government approvals processes is inhibitive to the growth of the industry. In many cases, the time and costs involved in obtaining the environmental approvals has proved unduly expensive and time-consuming and has deterred investment in the industry.
The Department of Fisheries (DoF) in WA has taken a strategic approach and decided to create an Aquaculture Zone in WA’s Mid West to facilitate development of the finfish aquaculture industry in this area. The Mid West Zone Project aims to ensure aquaculture in the zone is socially acceptable and environmentally responsible. The DoF must provide the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) with an assessment of the potential environmental impact that this industry would have. The data for this environmental impact assessment (EIA) will be generated from appropriate field sampling and analytical measurements and:
- Will underpin the strategic environmental approval of the project;
- Will be used to streamline proposals for a number of potential finfish aquaculture operations within the Mid West zone; and
- Will be used in a coupled hydrodynamic and ecological model (ecosystem model) to determine the environmental stresses that may be attributable to penned fish in the marine environment.
- Determine baseline levels of nutrients in seawater and sediment samples
- Determine baseline levels of TPH, PAH and alkyl PAHs in seawater and sediment samples
- Determine baseline levels of metals and OC/OPs in sediment samples
- Deliver data to DoF that can be used to satisfy EPA requirements regarding setting up new aquaculture zones