06/02/2008 - 22:00

Aquaculture group plans expansion

06/02/2008 - 22:00

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Perth company McRobert Aquaculture Group is planning to substantially expand its fish farming operation at Gingin, taking the company towards its five year goal of becoming a major aquaculture producer in Australia and internationally.

Aquaculture group plans expansion

Perth company McRobert Aquaculture Group is planning to substantially expand its fish farming operation at Gingin, taking the company towards its five year goal of becoming a major aquaculture producer in Australia and internationally.

The group plans to build a 150 tonne per annum facility that will be the largest recirculation finfish aquaculture system in Australia.

McRobert will be a 55 per cent partner of the facility, which is in the first stage of a five-year program to grow various finfish species predominantly for the Perth market.

McRobert has been developing its aquaculture systems over the past seven years and plans to start marketing its technology globally by entering into joint ventures with established companies in Dubai, Qatar, Iran, Turkey and Malaysia.

The company’s objective is to have a combination of wholly owned and joint venture production systems, with a minimum combined capacity of 8,000 tonnes a year within the next five years.

The group hopes to become a significant producer of finfish in Australia, providing multiple species to wholesalers and distributors and being the ‘first to market’ with nationwide environmentally sustainable fish farming facilities.

Company director Ian McRobert said the group had received a positive response to its recently released an information memorandum, aimed at raising $2 million.

“We are shortly expecting one of Perth’s prominent fish wholesalers to come on board,” he told WA Business News.

At the completion of the successful fundraising, a new company, McRobert Aquaculture Systems, will be formed as the entity for all commercial operations, and be  the sole holder of the intellectual property for the group.

Currently McRobert and its partner, the Aquaculture Development Unit at Fremantle’s Challenger TAFE, grow barramundi, ocean trout, pink snapper and mulloway in existing systems in Fremantle.

McRobert has created two flagship systems for finfish aquaculture in fresh or salt water - the Recirculation Aquaculture System (RAS) for land based aquaculture and the Semi Intensive Floating Tank System (SIFTS) in sheltered waters.

The uniqueness of the SIFTS system is its ability to remove solid waste product from fish tanks, or seacages, which when built up limits production yields and encourages toxic algal blooms.

SIFTS operates in Fremantle harbour with full approval from the Environmental Protection Authority. 

Mr McRobert said the company intends to create a highly regarded brand and get a good reputation both in Australia and overseas.

He- said it was important for the Australian aquaculture industry to apply best-practice technology to production facilities and maintain strict environmental and quarantine controls.

“People are conscious of fish being grown overseas in big unhealthy ponds where the environmental conditions are pathetic,” said Mr McRobert.

“At the moment, Australia has a reputation for being squeaky clean, and I hope it stays that way.”

To date, the company has spent $4 million on prototyping, research and development and has eleven patented innovations.

Aquaculture produces about 43 per cent of all seafood on the global market.

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