MG Kailis Group is slowly but surely laying the groundwork for the establishment of sea cage tuna farms off of the coast of Esperance.
It has partnered with Challenger TAFE, the Esperance Marine Institute and the Conservation Council to draft guidelines on sustainable aqua-culture practices.
The same groups also worked together to develop Australia’s first tertiary course focused on the environmental management of sea cage farming.
In addition, MG Kailis engaged consultant and former MP Ron Edwards to host a series of community meetings in Esperance earlier this month.
Kailis project manager Stephen Hood said the company planned to transfer some of its southern bluefin tuna quota from Port Lincoln in South Australia to Esperance.
The farming of southern bluefin tuna in sea cages off Port Lincoln is worth more than $200 million per annum. Juvenile tuna are caught in the wild and kept in cages to be raised to maturity and then sold.
Previous attempts by the Western Australian Government to establish sea cage farming in Esperance have run foul of community opposition.
Mr Hood said the Esperance community recognised the potential commercial benefits of aquaculture but needed to be reassured the industry would not have adverse environmental effects.
“The community needs to be on side,” Mr Hood said.
He added that Kailis had no immediate plans to transfer its quota, preferring to wait for research activities currently underway to conclude next year.
Greg Jenkins, manager of aqua-culture research and development at Challenger TAFE, said there were numerous courses in aquaculture production but the new course was the only one focused on environ-mental management.
He added that the aquaculture guidelines were designed to encourage the industry to operate in WA in an ecologically sustainable manner.
As well as the plans for Esperance, a second possible tuna farming venture in WA is being investigated by a group of commercial fishermen in Geraldton.
They are assessing sea cage farming of yellowfin tuna in the Abrolhos Islands.
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