PLANS to establish a new aquaculture research lease on the North Coast to investigate sustainable seafood production, are on public exhibition, Fisheries NSW executive director Dr Geoff Allan said.
Dr Allan said the project to extend the marine hatchery work at Port Stephens Fisheries Institute to an offshore research lease was classified as a State Significant Infrastructure proposal.
"The application seeks to establish a 20ha lease, (370m x 530m) 3.5km off Hawks Nest, for a period of five years," he said.
"The Environmental Impact Statement and draft Environmental Management Plan have been prepared by Fisheries NSW to accompany the application, which will be exhibited by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure from October 26 to November 19.
"Approval for the aquaculture research lease requires the consent of the Minister for Planning. The lease would allow Fisheries NSW researchers to extend their ground-breaking research on species such as yellowtail kingfish which is being done at the Port Stephens Fisheries Institute.
"Key outcomes from the research would be proving species suitability, validating equipment and technology and to conduct environmental monitoring.
"Some 85% of seafood purchased in NSW is imported. With global demand and seafood consumption per capita increasing, aquaculture must play an increased role in sustainable seafood supply in the future.
"Aquaculture research is vital to secure a viable and sustainable aquaculture industry for NSW," Dr Allan said.
Consultation with stakeholders in the Port Stephens/Hawks Nest/Tea Gardens area began late 2011 with agencies, local government, environmental and community groups, indigenous leaders, recreational and commercial fishers, marine tour operators and local associations. Valuable input received from these groups has helped identify issues of concern which have been addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement.
A majority of stakeholders consulted supported the project and saw the opportunities for sustainable seafood production, employment and provision of local services. A short summary document has been prepared and will be sent to those contacted during the development of the Environmental Impact Statement.
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