The Australian and Tasmanian governments have announced the development of a framework delivering sustainable offshore aquaculture in Commonwealth waters off the coast of Tasmania.
Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries and Senator for Tasmania Jonathon Duniam, and Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water Guy Barnett, joined Dr John Whittington, CEO of the Blue Economy CRC to announce the MOU at the Australian Maritime College at the University of Tasmania.
Australia, with the World’s third largest Exclusive Economic Zone of more than 8 million square kilometres has enormous potential to use the ocean sustainably to increase seafood and renewable energy production.
Realising this potential requires moving offshore into new and more exposed high-energy operating environments requiring new sustainable production systems that can withstand both regular and extreme weather events while being safely and economically managed.
“Currently, aquaculture in Australia is operated in State or Territory waters and by moving further offshore – more than three nautical miles – we can harness recent technological improvements and investigate the potential environmental and resource access benefits available from undertaking aquaculture in deeper waters,’’ Senator Duniam said.
Moving offshore requires new planning, regulatory and monitoring systems to encourage and support sustainable operations and offers the opportunity to develop industries and jobs to meet the demand for high quality, sustainably farmed seafood and seaweeds for domestic and export markets.
Tasmania, having Australia’s largest aquaculture sector, is an ideal location to develop aquaculture knowledge and equipment and to grow the nation’s $1.6 billion sector further.
As Dr John Whittington, CEO of the Blue Economy CRC states,
“We welcome today’s announcement by the Australian and Tasmanian governments to develop a regulatory framework for aquaculture in Commonwealth waters. This will enable us to work with our Participants from industry, universities and government to undertake the critical ocean-based research to develop sustainable offshore aquaculture systems.”
The Blue Economy CRC currently has a research project underway aiming to characterise a marine area for emerging Blue Economy R&D activities in Bass Strait that can support sustainable offshore aquaculture and renewable energy developments.
The analysis of baseline survey data will provide critical environmental information and early notification of the suitability of the area for aquaculture and renewable energy production platforms and systems.
The scientific approaches developed in this project will be transferrable to other potential and appropriate areas around Australia and support marine spatial planning and site selection for future developments offshore.