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Bremer Bay farms abalone

TWO multi-million dollar abalone farms are being set up for the first time in WA in the small South West seaside resort of Bremer Bay – recently hard hit by the closure of the pilchard fishing industry by Bremer Fish Processors.

The two new enterprises are being established by Bayside Abalone Farms of Bremer Bay and Perth-based WA Abalone Farms Pty Ltd.

Bayside Abalone director Kelvin Hall told Business News his enterprise was the first abalone farm to be established in WA and will follow the example of other aquaculture farms in Tasmania and South Australia.

He said an abalone hatchery had already been started in Albany and, once the new facilities were set up in Bremer Bay, the junior molluscs would be transferred.

Work is underway on a pump station and the installation of seven long 350mm diameter pipelines which will be used to pump seawater from the sea into long troughs where the abalone will be grown.

Mr Hall said the abalone could not be farmed in the open ocean due to heavy seas and the danger of being wiped out by mud worms which apparently are detrimental to the shells.

The company has spent about $4 million setting up the enterprise and the biggest hurdle to date was clearing Native Title on the crown land, which carries a twenty year lease and is administrated by the Department of Land Administration.

“My goal is to produce about fitytonnes annually of abalone within five years,” Mr Hall said.

He said the produce will be exported, mainly to China where the demand – according to the company’s assessment – is “inexhaustible”.

Mr Hall said he was confident of success after working on several similar enterprises in the eastern States.

“It will take three years to put the project together,” he added.

Mr Hall said abalone was selling for up to $300 a kilogram in Singapore.

A spokesperson for WA Fisheries said a number of proponents have applied for licences to farm abalone on coastal sites in Bremer Bay.

“We see a lot of future for abalone farms in WA,” WA Fisheries senior officer, agriculture programming Tina Thorne said.

“They will not make the same mistakes as they did in Tasmania and South Australia.”

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