Aquaculture lease might be thin edge of a larger wedge

FORMER chairman of the Jervis Bay Marine Park Advisory Committee Attila Kaszo fears a proposed commercial mussel farm in Jervis Bay could be the start of larger things to come.

The proposal to build a floating mussel farm includes three commercial shellfish aquaculture leases in the bay.

Two 20-hectare leases are proposed for about 1.4km and 1.9km southeast of Callala Beach. One 10-hectare lease is also proposed for 660 metres north of Orion Beach in Vincentia.

Mr Kaszo said his primary concern was that Jervis Bay Marine Park was established to protect the marine habitat and the proposal had the potential to compromise that.

“The Marine Parks Act has protection of marine biodiversity as one of its principal objectives,” he said.

Mr Kaszo said after speaking with Fisheries staff he believed there could be plans to expand the project at a later date.

“Although Jervis Bay is a multi-use park I think an independent feasibility study should be done before this is allowed to go ahead,” he said. 

“I believe this is more like a pilot program with an expansion to come in the future.

“Fisheries has proposed 50ha at this stage, but there are 440ha zoned for commercial aquaculture.

“You’ve got to wonder how economically feasible this is at the proposed size.

“This proposal is called a draft at this stage but I’ve worked for the government, I know how this sort of thing works. A draft is like a litmus test in the community.”

Mr Kaszo said there needed to be more transparency over every aspect of the proposal.

“The proposal states that the mussel rafts would be seeded with locally bred stock where available,” he said.

“I am worried about where they will get it from if it’s not available locally. Is it genetically safe to introduce stock from other areas?

“This is another reason we need an independent feasibility study.”

Mr Kaszo said there were

many issues that needed to be

considered.

“Science, aesthetics, personal impacts, tourism, these need to be weighed up against what the area was established for,” he said.

Fisheries NSW aquaculture manager Ian Lyall said more leases in Jervis Bay were unlikely.

He said in Jervis Bay there were too many constraints and limitations.

“I can’t see there being any expansion,” Mr Lyall said.

He said the operation in Eden’s Twofold Bay, which is also 50ha, caused a lot of community concern when it was first proposed.

“That has really turned around and it is now a big part of the community,” he said.

“We’ve got aquaculture in almost every marine park in the state, it’s a compatible use.”

Mr Lyall said about 85 per cent of the seafood purchased in NSW was imported, a trend that was partly behind the decision to propose an operation in Jervis Bay.

“Seafood is a very low-impact production system,” he said.

“People are eating more seafood. We need to produce more seafood.

“We are also seeing that people want to know where their food is coming from.

“It will mean employment for those directly involved.

“This will not have a negative impact on tourism, we think it will complement it,” he said.

If approved, operating the leases will be tendered out to a private company.

“Those commercial shellfish operators will have to provide information to the Department of Planning who will oversee the monitoring,” he said.

Mr Lyall said only local wild stock or stock with the same genetic background would be used.

An environmental impact

statement submitted by NSW Department of Primary Industries is now available for public comment.

The proposal covers the water component of the project. 

A separate application would need to be lodged with Shoalhaven City Council for land based activities such as storage and processing. 

The applicant would cover any application fees or infrastructure requirements not council. 

The industrial estate at Woollamia is a likely venue for a land-based site.

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