Aquaculture Committee

The Aquaculture Committee is a consultative group made up of representatives from each state and territory to consider key issues fundamental to policy, regulation, and governance of aquaculture in Australian waters. Whilst each region has its own unique characteristics and the policy positions of individual departments may vary, many issues are common to all States and there are significant advantages to sharing information and management tools that can be universally applied.

Aquaculture Committee meets twice a year. Representatives from Fisheries Research Development Corporation, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the National Aquaculture Council have a standing invitation to attend meetings. The Chair is a member of the Australian Fisheries Management Forum. The Aquaculture Committee Charter provides a terms of reference for the group.

Aquaculture Committee met 9 March 2017 at Melbourne Airport. The Chair gave introductory comments noting a large Biosecurity content for this meeting, also a key focus also on national industry development.

Attendance: All States and Territories except Tasmania, also Fisheries Research Development Corporation (FRDC), CSIRO, Sub-Committee for Aquatic Animal Health, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR), the National Aquaculture Council, and a representative of Animal Health Australia.

Draft National Aquaculture Strategy: DAWR were looking to finalise the Strategy by the end of March 2017 but additional comments and the WA election will make this unlikely. The final version is to go back to Australian Fisheries Management Forum for endorsement before sign off.

Aquaculture Farm Biosecurity Plans: A template prepared by the Commonwealth was well received. Funding is available to develop oyster hatchery and abalone farm plans.

White Spot Disease: The detection and response actions around the appearance of White Spot Disease in SE Queensland were discussed.  The disease has caused significant disruption to the aquaculture, commercial and recreational fishing industries as well as seafood and bait suppliers.  A number of states have provided support to manage the outbreak. Movement restrictions are in place to contain the outbreak.

Aquatic Emergency Aquatic Disease Response Arrangements: All key aquaculture sectors are involved. Commercial fishers are represented by the National Seafood Industry Alliance. Aim to have a draft deed by end of 2017. Recreational fishery and indigenous issues recognised as part of public benefit with their interests represented by Government. A communications plan and training package will be developed.

Chemicals: The ongoing issue of approval for chemicals used in Australian aquaculture was discussed. Aquaculture Committee will work with the SCAAH chemical sub-committee to clarify chemical tasks and investigate funding to support applications.

Socio-economic evaluation of Aquaculture: A NSW study was discussed and it was noted how effective the project was. An FRDC workshop in February focussed on a national approach to the issue. Agreed it was very useful information to support regional planning, social perceptions and RD&E.

Seafood Directions: There is an opportunity for Aquaculture Committee to highlight innovative reforms to attract investment and develop the aquaculture industry at the Seafood Directions Conference in September 2017.

Aquaculture Committee met Tuesday 11 October 2016 by phone. The Chair Dr Geoff Allan (DDG NSW DPI) provided introductory comments and thanked Aquaculture Committee members for the quality of the submitted updates.

Attendance: All States and Territory; Fisheries Research Development Corporation (FRDC); Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR); and Sub-Committee for Aquatic Animal Health (SCAAH). PIRSA and Animal Health Australia representatives for specific items.

Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMF): The Chair noted Commonwealth Marine Reserves, Aquaculture in Commonwealth Waters, Productivity Commission Report 2016 and National Aquaculture Strategy discussions at AFMF.

Draft National Aquaculture Strategy: An early September draft was discussed with comments due 19 October. The Commonwealth will consider comments with a new draft to come to Aquaculture Committee out of session for endorsement then to AFMF. Aiming for the end of 2016 to finalise the document.  The Strategy flows from the 2014 National Aquaculture Statement. It has an aspirational goal to double the value of Australian aquaculture production to $2 billion by 2026.

AquaVet Chemicals: PIRSA representative reported on the Aquatic Veterinary Medicines Working Group.  The Group covers most states delivering on Objective 4 from AQUAPLAN 2014-19. The Group is well suited to support Minor Use Permits (MUPs) lodged to benefit all aquaculturists.  Recent successes in coordinating approvals and getting private sector support were noted. A table was provided to AC members summarising current MUPs/ registered products noting a number were being applied for.

Emergency Aquatic Disease Response Arrangements: Animal Health Australia (AHA) representative provided an update. It is the half way mark of four year project. Engagement with relevant sectors that would benefit from an Aquatic Emergency Animal Disease Response arrangement underway. Oysters Australia now participating as are other key aquaculture groups – Australian Abalone Growers Assoc., Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Assoc., Australian SBT Industry Assoc., Prawn, Barramundi and Pearl associations and Pet Industry Association of Australia. AHA working on how best to represent interests and to engage with recreational fishers.

Seafood Directions 27029 September 2017: Suggestion that a greater focus on aquaculture would be useful for Seafood Directions 2017 at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre 27-29 September 2017. Suggestions for topics: Social licence and aquaculture; social and economic evaluation of aquaculture; myth busting aquaculture; environmental innovation (eg remediation systems); cooperative marketing with wild sector.

Next Meeting face to face in Melbourne March 2017

Aquaculture Committee met Wednesday 11 May 2016 by phone. The Chair Dr Geoff Allan (DDG NSW DPI) provided introductory comments and welcomed Aaron Irving (National Aquaculture Council).  The Chair acknowledged departing member Pheroze Jungalwalla’s efforts over many years working for the Australian Aquaculture Industry.

Attendance: All States; National Aquaculture Council (NAC); Fisheries Research Development Corporation (FRDC); Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR); and Sub-Committee for Aquatic Animal Health (SCAAH).

Social Science and Economic Research Coordination Unit: Emily Ogier presented on this program under FRDC. Acknowledged that socio-economic information at a state and national level was very important.  Various projects underway.  There is capacity to provide comment on EOIs/research priorities and link with all seafood sectors. Information sourced will support discussions on the social acceptability of the seafood industry nationally.

National Translocation Guidelines: The final draft document was circulated for Aquaculture Committee comment.

National Industry POMS Response: It was noted that the document captured key issues especially the status of Australian Seafood Industries (ASI) and Pacific Oyster breeding lines.  The Chair was to follow up at a national level to discuss support options for ASI.

Legislative Matrix: South Australia has prepared a matrix to allow for comparison of aquaculture legislation between States and Territories.

State Aquaculture: The recent Queensland Aquaculture Policy Statement and proposed Aquaculture WA State Forum were noted.

AquaVet Chemicals: A number of Minor Use Permits (MUPs) are being applied for to cover either sectors, or all in the Australian aquaculture industry.  Aquaculture Committee is working with the National Aquaculture Council to streamline processes, avoid duplication of MUPs, and raise awareness.

Emergency Aquatic Disease Response Arrangements: The seafood industry has met and is proceeding to consider response arrangements.

Next Meeting: by Telelink October 2016.

Aquaculture Committee met Tuesday 9 February 2016. The incoming Chair Dr Geoff Allan (DDG NSW DPI) provided introductory comments on the value of Aquaculture Committee for a shared policy approach, networking opportunity and investigating constraints to industry development. As Chair, Dr Allan wanted the next two years to focus on investment and how to support industry growth.

Attendance: All States and Territory agencies (NT, TAS by phone), National Aquaculture Council (NAC), Fisheries Research Development Corporation (FRDC), Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR), CSIRO and Sub-Committee for Aquatic Animal Health (SCAAH).

Aquaculture Committee Charter including Terms of Reference: The Charter was updated and will be presented to the next Australian Fisheries Management Forum meeting in April 2016. Previous Aquaculture Committee Workplans have been substantially completed and key priorities will now be progressed as ongoing agenda items.

National Translocation Guidelines: The revised Guidelines were drafted by a working group drawn from jurisdictional representatives, the Ornamental sector, and NAC under the chairmanship of Brett Herbert of DAWR. Aquaculture Committee were also represented on the working group. The draft document will be discussed at SCAAH early March 2016 then released for broader comment, hoping to finalise by mid-2016.

National Aquaculture Strategy: The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources provided a summary of stakeholder input from some 70 contributors. This work is to be linked to the National Aquaculture Statement. The Department is hoping to have the Strategy completed mid-2016.

Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture Productivity Commission Regulatory Review: The Commission plans to have an issues paper developed by end of February 2016, thereafter public hearings and a White Paper will be implemented before the end of 2016.

Aquatic Animal Emergency Disease Response: An industry/government workshop is scheduled for March 2016 to consider Emergency Aquatic Animal Disease Response Arrangements, how responses will be managed and paid for.

New and Emerging Aquaculture Opportunities Sub-Program FRDC: FRDC has agreed to commission a small team to undertake an ‘audit’ of past and current RDE for new and emerging aquaculture. This will develop a database of projects and case studies (identified on risk parameters – eg biology, technology, business planning, markets, regulatory).

Socio-Economic Impact of Aquaculture in Australia:  This was identified as a key priority for Aquaculture Committee to better understand the extended value of aquaculture to the Australian economy. The Kate Barclay (UTS) FRDC project for coastal aquaculture in NSW is well underway, EconoSearch in SA is also producing annual reports. Emily Ogier (FRDC) will be asked to provide a national update at the next meeting.

AquaVet Chemicals: Discussion was held on the reform processes underway nationally and aquaculture industry/government contributions to these processes. Concern was expressed about timeframes, identification of low/high risk chemicals and duplication of processes. There was discussion about whether higher level representation was required. NSW, SA, QLD agreed to hold a telelink with key agency staff, that deal with the APVMA, to review concerns and report back to Aquaculture Committee.

Aquaculture in Commonwealth Waters: Aquaculture Committee has been pursuing legislative change to accommodate a push worldwide to undertake aquaculture in offshore waters. Legal advice is being reviewed and a project is being developed to consider the potential legislative requirements for aquaculture in Commonwealth Waters off WA.

State/Territory and Commonwealth Reports

  • Tasmania - Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome and planning and zoning of water to accommodate an anticipated doubling of Atlantic Salmon production by 2030;
  • QLD - AHPND-like prawn disease and Queensland Competition Authority’s report on aquaculture regulation;
  • WA - Aquaculture Development Zones and Marine Aquaculture Development Plans;
  • NSW - Williamtown PFOS contamination and drafting of a NSW Marine Water Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy;
  • SA - Cost recovery processes and marine zoning policies with a focus on allocation mechanisms to attract new and international investment;
  • NT - Production output from the Darwin Aquaculture Centre for fish and molluscan stocking and a large prawn farm application receiving Major Project status from both Commonwealth and NT governments;
  • VIC - Final phases of cost recovery to be implemented 1 April 2016, new state aquaculture strategy to be developed and expansion of abalone and Barramundi farms; and
  • SCAAH - AQUAPLAN 2014-2019, AQUAVETPLAN manuals, emergency response exercises and new quarantine requirements for ornamental fish.

Next Meeting: by Telelink 11 May 2016

A meeting was held on Thursday 21 May 2015. The Chair announced that a new chair has been appointed to Geoffrey Allan, Executive Director Fisheries NSW. The chair also provided an update on the last AFMF meeting. An update was provided by Department of Agriculture (DOA) on a media statement regarding the abolishment of the Aquaculture Committee. As the current Aquaculture Committee is a sub-committee of AFMF and is self-funded, it cannot currently be abolished. The DOA also indicated that there will be a Productivity review across all states and territories.

Each state and Territory provided a report on key issue including:

  • NSW - Shellfish Program amendments and Evaluation of Coastal Aquaculture Project.
  • SA - Finalization of zone development, Environmental Monitoring Program online reporting and the development of an international brochure for aquaculture.
  • TAS - Existing issue involved with dissolved oxygen levels in deeper waters
  • WA - Development of aquaculture zones.
  • QLD - Currently undertaking three National reviews, including MRAG review of Fisheries Management arrangements for QLD, QLD Competitions Authority Review of regulation for QLD aquaculture and the Joint Select Committee inquiry into Northern Development which includes aquaculture.
  • SCAAH - Discussed abalone farm health accreditation and Exercise Haliotis, which is an emergency response exercise (abalone).
  • CSIRO - Briefed committee on breeding programs and digital aquaculture.
  • NAC - Provided an update on access of multiple use permits for chemical use.

Updates were provided on:

  • FRDC reports
  • Aquaculture in Commonwealth waters
  • Fisheries Management Communication Strategy
  • Socio Economic studies on impact of Aquaculture in Australia
  • Importation of Sturgeon

Before the next meeting, a meeting will take place with the current Chair (SA) and new Chair (NSW) to discuss the transition of aquaculture committee responsibilities.

A meeting was held on Thursday 20th November 2014.  The World Aquaculture event was discussed with a review indicating that the event drew over 2000 delegates, and was projected to inject $11.5 million into South Australia's economy.

Each state and Territory provided a report on key issues including:

  • NSW - Ongoing issues with pollution on the Kalang River NSW north coast, impacting oyster harvest area water quality.
  • SA - Numerous fish kills occurred in 2014 due to algal blooms, and numerous oyster mortalities were investigated.
  • TAS - Emerging issue involved with dissolved oxygen levels in the deeper waters of Macquarie Harbour.
  • WA - Department is developing a number of aquaculture initiatives in relation to fish health.
  • QLD - Translocation policies are being reviewed by Biosecurity to align with National frameworks.

Sub-Committee of Aquatic Animal Health (SCAAH) also discussed they are going to lead the cross sectional group for the Translocation Policy Review.

Updates were provided on:

  • FRDC projects
  • National Aquaculture Strategy
  • Summary of each juristicton's licence fees
  • Biosecurity Roundtable by NAC

Committee members raised and discussed a number of issues in relation to access to Aquavet Chemicals including:

  • Renewals and imminent lapses of MUPs
  • Activity of the SCAAH Aquavet Meds working Group
  • Access to chemicals for aquaculture
  • An update was provided by Department of Agriculture and discussion was had around the development probability for aquaculture in Commonwealth Waters occurring

AC members also discussed the future of Aquaculture in Australia, including the reduction of red tape, opportunities, reducing business risk, international investment importance, role of government and the role of industry.

A meeting was held on Wednesday 11th of June 2014, during the proceedings of the World Aquaculture Adelaide 2014 Conference, as most of the Aquaculture Committee members were in Adelaide attending the conference. As such the meeting was deliberately short, and focused mainly on recent issues, and highlights from conference presentations. Not all standing items were covered within this meeting.

The committee discussed and identified future items for AC including:

  • National Aquaculture Strategy
  • Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) follow up
  • Socio Economic studies
  • Translocation

Dan Lees from the Ministry of Primary Industries NZ, attended this meeting and shared some information about shellfish culture and oyster health management.

Each State and Territory provided a report on key issues including:

  • NSW - Port Stephens and Wallis Lake suffered from unexplained mortalities for 18 months, where investigations took place.
  • SA - Winter mortalities more connected with environmental factors, genetics and husbandry.
  • VIC - Closed off live trout translocation from Tasmania.
  • NAC - Tabled a risk management publication for the committee's consideration.

Commonwealth - North Australia Green paper now available.

Lyndon Moffat from APVMA was invited to discuss changes with the committee, including:

  • Cost Recovery
  • Applicants to meet legislative safety criteria- guidelines available
  • Multiple use permits (MUPs)
  • Pre-registration applications

At this meeting, the Aquaculture Committee (AC) agreed that the Department of Agriculture would lead the drafting of a National Policy Statement and Strategy.  This was done in the context of renewed interest by the new government to work with industry to develop a national aquaculture strategy.  Key goals and actions for managing aquaculture development over the next 5 years for each State, Northern Territory and industry will be provided to the Department of Agriculture to inform an updated draft policy statement.  It is anticipated that the revised national policy statement will be presented by the Minister at the World Aquaculture Adelaide Conference in June 2014, subject to all States, the Northern Territory and Australian Governments endorsing the statement.

Each State and Territory provided a report on key issues, including:

  • NSW – The NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy has been updated following review and public exhibition.  Amendments include: best practice standards for raft culture; updated Priority Oyster Aquaculture Area maps; land bases identified; lease signage changes; and information provided on risk management and climate change.
  • NT – A Stock Enhancement Policy was released to provide guiding principles for assessment of proposal for fisheries enhancements including: ranching; stock enhancement; and restocking from aquaculture facilities.
  • Qld – An Expression of Interest was released inviting interested parties to make a submission for aquaculture under the 'Great Sandy Regional Marine Aquaculture Plan' (GSRMAP). Twenty six sites with a total area of 8,500 hectares were available to interested parties.
  • Vic – A number of RD&E projects have been finalized including: a hatchery manual for Blue Mussels; health management projects for Murray Cod and white spot in finfish; algae feed trials for abalone; and Native (Flat Oyster) trials.
  • SA – An expression of interest 'Application of high-resolution tracking technologies to understand movement and residency of sharks in Southern Spencer Gulf and potential spatial overlap with community activity and marine industries', which includes aquaculture sites, was submitted to the Fisheries and Aquaculture Research Advisory Committee.
  • WA – The Department's Abalone Aquaculture Policy has been approved

The AC discussed additional verbal reports to include as standing items on the agenda, including an FRDC report and a CSIRO report.  The benefit of a Commonwealth Report was also discussed to provide the AC with an insight into broader issues, including chemical use, aquaculture biosecurity, animal welfare and trade.  As such, a commitment was made to request such a report from the Commonwealth.

An update was provided on the AC's Workplan Priorities:

  • Communication strategy – A focus was given to ensuring policy links and media contact details are updated for all States and Territories, as well as communication priorities leading up to the World Aquaculture Adelaide Conference in June 2014.
  • RD&E needs and opportunities – It was confirmed that the current national RD&E strategy would soon come to an end, and that the FRDC were looking at gaps to develop the next research strategy, for submission and sign off by PISC in February 2015.
  • Socio-economic  impacts of Aquaculture in Australia – A new workplan was discussed and endorsed by the committee, in recognition of the need to better integrate social sustainability into Aquaculture management and development.  Initially, any existing socio-economic information will be collected from States and Territories to gain a better understanding of what information is already available, before working on a strategy to develop a national triple-bottom line dataset for Aquaculture.

The next AC meeting is to be held in Melbourne on Friday 4th April, 2014.