Fish nursery to stock Geraldton sea cages, help create jobs and grow local economy

Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
WA Fisheries minister Peter Tinley and Batavia Coast Marine Institute technical officer Tim Stockbridge feed yellowtail kingfish grown at the institute today.
Camera IconWA Fisheries minister Peter Tinley and Batavia Coast Marine Institute technical officer Tim Stockbridge feed yellowtail kingfish grown at the institute today. Credit: Geoff Vivian/The Geraldton Guardian

The WA Government has fast-tracked plans for a Geraldton-based finfish nursery as part of its push to stimulate investment in the Mid West Aquaculture Zone.

Fisheries minister Peter Tinley said accelerating the process, which was expected to create 20 immediate construction jobs at the nursery site, would shave months off the previous schedule.

“It is now estimated that nursery operations could start as early as September 2021,” he said in Geraldton today.

“Accelerating processes for the design, fit-out and construction of the state-of-the-art Geraldton Marine Finfish Nursery will facilitate the supply of juvenile yellowtail kingfish to commercial aquaculture companies, a pre-requisite for commercial scale farming.

“The nursery’s ability to provide seed stocks for grow-out in the sea cages of new and existing operations is central to the creation of new jobs and the growth of the local economy.”

Mr Tinley said estimates indicated “hundreds” of direct jobs when the nursery was operating at full capacity.

WA Fisheries minister Peter Tinley and Batavia Coast Marine Institute technical officer Tim Stockbridge at the institute today.
Camera IconWA Fisheries minister Peter Tinley and Batavia Coast Marine Institute technical officer Tim Stockbridge at the institute today. Credit: Geoff Vivian/The Geraldton Guardian

He said this would include direct and indirect job opportunities for local businesses supplying raw materials, goods, services, trades, transport and, eventually, tourism.

“With a major company like Huon Aquaculture already on board to developing its business in the Mid West, there’s a real opportunity to take WA’s aquaculture sector to a new level,” Mr Tinley said.

Huon Aquaculture chief executive Peter Bender said an operating finfish nursery was a crucial component of the Tasmanian company’s move to WA.

“We are excited at the opportunity to expand our operations into the Mid West and the yellowtail kingfish (Hiramasa) sashimi market, and welcome the WA Government’s push to prioritise development of the Geraldton finfish nursery,” he said.

The company is establishing a 2200ha fish farm near the Abrolhos Islands about 60km from Geraldton near the Pelsaert and Easter Groups.

Before making the announcement Mr Tinley inspected the aquaculture facilities at Batavia Coast Marine Institute.

He saw how pure sea water was extracted from underground solution channels in the limestone bedrock beneath the complex, aerated, supplied to fish, re-oxygenated and then returned to the sea.

He later saw the tanks where fingerling finfish were grown to size before transfer to offshore cages.

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