Draft Marine Waters Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy

Public exhibition for the Draft NSW Marine Waters Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy is from 25 June to 3 August 2018. You are invited to comment on the draft strategy by sending a written submission during this time.

Your submission is part of the process of making this draft strategy final.

At the close of the public exhibition period the State Aquaculture Steering Committee will consider all submissions and prepare the final strategy document.

Note that multiple submissions received by the same author will be counted as a single submission.

While all submissions count, they are most effective when we understand your ideas and the outcomes you want. Some suggestions to help you write your submission are:

  • write clearly and be specific about the issues that are of concern to you, for example ‘Navigation’;
  • note which part or section of the plan your comments relate to, for example ‘Section 3.2.15’;
  • give reasoning in support of your points - this helps avoid misinterpretation and makes it easier for us to consider your ideas;
  • if you agree or support a particular part or idea in the strategy, please tell us;
  • if you disagree, please tell us specifically what you disagree with and why you disagree; and
  • it is very helpful to suggest solutions or alternatives to an issue if you can.

Where to send comments

Email your comments on the draft Strategy to aquaculture.management@dpi.nsw.gov.au.

Marine Strategy documents

FAQs

The NSW Government recognises the need to look at opportunities for sustainable and viable aquaculture development. Aquaculture supports the regional economies of NSW and will be an increasingly important contributor to the future food supply needs of the State.

Aquaculture not only produces quality sustainable seafood, but can be the catalyst for economic development. The flow on effects of aquaculture has provided increased employment opportunities for service industries, including the tourism, restaurant and retail sectors.

The Strategy compliments the successful NSW Land Based Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy and the NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy.

Aquaculture is the breeding, growing, keeping and harvesting of fish or marine vegetation with a view to sale or commercial purposes. Fish include finfish, molluscs, crustaceans and other invertebrates. Types of Aquaculture the Strategy considers include sea pens for finfish, longline infrastructure for shellfish and algae, artificial reef for abalone and ranching on the seafloor (shellfish and other invertebrates).

Aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. In 2012, the volume of farmed seafood overtook beef production. Global demand for seafood is rapidly expanding with world annual per capita fish consumption doubling from about 10 kg in the 1960’s to 20 kg in 2016. In 2016, 50% of the seafood consumed worldwide was produced by aquaculture.

The demand for seafood is evidently increasing, however wild caught seafood is not expected to increase from current sustainable catch levels. In order to meet the demand, NSW currently imports around 87% of the seafood we purchase.

The gap between wild fishery supply and the growing demand for seafood can only be supplied by aquaculture.

The strategy was developed as a whole of government initiative under the guidance of the State Aquaculture Steering Committee. The Committee comprises representatives from Department of Premier’s and Cabinet, Department of Planning and Environment, Department of Primary Industries, Environment Protection Authority, Food Authority, Department of Industry (Lands and Forestry), National Parks and Wildlife Service, Office of Environment and Heritage, Department of Planning and Environment (Resources and Geosciences), NSW Food Authority, Office of Local Government, Transport for NSW (Roads and Maritime Services).

In developing the draft strategy, a number of key stakeholder groups were contacted to provide comment, including Aboriginal bodies, boating associations, commercial and recreational fishers, aquaculture industry, waterway user groups, universities and environmental non-government organisations.

The NSW Land Based Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy and the NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy are two other aquaculture strategies that exist. These strategies have greatly assisted in providing certainty to government agencies, proponents and the community that a considered approach is being undertaken in NSW for aquaculture developments. They consider: site and species selection; design and operation; best practice; and water quality protection.

Rather than an ad hoc development approach to marine waters based aquaculture, the strategy provides clear direction on the sustainable development of marine aquaculture. Recent approvals for finfish and shellfish farms in NSW highlight the investment opportunity. A marine waters strategy means NSW Government is on the front foot, ensuring the industry develops sustainably.

The strategy covers coastal waters to the jurisdictional limit of three nautical miles offshore (State Waters), but does not include estuaries.

No. Appropriate sites in NSW are limited and there are many areas that the Strategy will exclude marine aquaculture. Operational restrictions will also limit how close aquaculture farms can be situated to each other.

The strategy is aligned with the Marine Estate Management Strategy (MEMS), which sets the over-arching strategy for the State Government to co-ordinate the management of the marine estate.

Aquaculture, in its various forms, were assessed as part of the MEMS’s threat and risk assessment, and generally deemed minimal or low risk to the assets or benefits from the marine estate.

No. The strategy contains guidance on a number of constraints that will require aquaculture farm developers to investigate and then identify the sustainable locations both for aquaculture and the environment.

Aquaculture developments in NSW marine waters will be classified as either State Significant Infrastructure or State Significant Development. This will require a marine waters aquaculture development to obtain approval from the Minister for Planning and Environment under the Environmental and Planning Assessment Act 1979.

An Environmental Impact Statement will need to be prepared to accompany any application for approval.

Aquaculture developments also need to undergo an assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 administered by the Commonwealth.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment and the Commonwealth’s Department of Environment and Energy regulate marine aquaculture in NSW waters through conditions of approval to operate. Conditions include preparation of management plans, environmental and operational monitoring, reporting requirements and auditing. Current operations in NSW have not had a significant impact on the environment.

The application, consultation, environmental impact statement and assessment processes all consider potential impacts on the environment for a particular farming proposal. Removing or minimising environmental impacts is a key operational requirement, and management plans and approval conditions clearly identify these. Ongoing environmental monitoring programs help build a picture of potential impacts and ways in which they may be mitigated into the future.

Operators of aquaculture farms will be required to carry out monitoring programs and report on the respective farming activities. The monitoring program will be tailored to the aquaculture type and if significant impacts are found, then remediation actions will be required. Existing marine farms in NSW are required to monitor water quality and seafloor impacts with the work undertaken by independent contractors. Much of this data is publically available including video footage under and adjacent to finfish sea pens.

The current marine farms in NSW have posed no direct entanglement risk to marine mammals, turtles or seabirds. To prevent adverse interactions with marine fauna, the latest avoidance technologies and designs will be employed.

NSW Roads and Maritime Services require that the extremities of aquaculture leases are marked with appropriate navigational buoys. Notices to mariners would also be issued and the leases would be marked on navigational charts.

Only endemic species will be approved for culture to ensure the genetic integrity of a region is maintained. There will be a requirement for all farms to develop Biosecurity Plans to address pests and diseases and routine health monitoring of stock.

For personal safety, given the presence of submerged buoys, nets and mooring lines, recreational boaters, fishers, spear fishers and divers should remain outside the lease areas, which will be delineated by navigational markers. It is an offence to interfere or damage anything in the lease areas.

A number of design features will be used to minimise visibility of the infrastructure, including the use of dark coloured materials, minimising and streamlining surface infrastructure, maximising subsurface infrastructure and maintaining a low profile. Service vessels will also be very similar to existing commercial and recreational vessels that frequently navigate marine waters.

It is a condition of an aquaculture permit that all infrastructure is removed from the lease area/s if operations are expired, cancelled or surrendered. Aquaculture lessees in NSW are also required to contribute to an Aquaculture Lease Security Bond.

The Aquaculture Lease Security Bond held by the government can be used to clean up infrastructure if required.

Public exhibition of the strategy is from 25 June to 3 August 2018. You are invited to comment on the draft strategy by sending a written submission during this time.

Your submission is part of the process of making this draft strategy final. At the close of the public exhibition period, the State Aquaculture Steering Committee will consider all submissions and prepare the final strategy document. Note that multiple submissions received by the same author will be counted as a single submission.

While all submissions count, they are most effective when we understand your ideas and the outcomes you want. Some suggestions to help you write your submission are:

  • write clearly and be specific about the issues that are of concern to you, for example ‘Navigation’;
  • note which part or section of the strategy your comments relate to, for example ‘Section 3.2.15’;
  • give reasoning in support of your points - this helps avoid misinterpretation and makes it easier for us consider your ideas;
  • if you agree or support a particular part or idea in the strategy, please tell us;
  • if you disagree, please tell us specifically what you disagree with and why you disagree; and
  • it is very helpful to suggest solutions or alternatives to an issue if you can.

Email your comments on the draft Strategy to aquaculture.management@dpi.nsw.gov.au.

Further information

For further information contact aquaculture.management@dpi.nsw.gov.au.