New life for Pisces fish farm

FISH FARMERS: Frances and Peter Bender, co-founders of the Tasmanian-based Huon Aquaculture, hope to operate a fish farm with NSW DPI off the Port Stephens heads. Picture: Peter MathewAN INACTIVE fishfarm off the Port Stephens heads will receive a newlease on life if a joint application seekingto modify how and where it operates is approved.
Nanjing Night Net

NSW Department of Primary Industries and the Tasmanian-basedHuon Aquaculture plan to operate three sea pens inProvidence Bay, where Pisces Aquaculture once operated its fish farm, to researchfarming methods forYellowtail Kingfish.

“We will work closely with the NSW Department of Primary Industriesand the Port Stephens Fisheries Institute to carefully monitor the health, welfare and performance of fish,” a statement byHuon Aquaculture co-foundersPeter and Frances Bender said.

“At Huon, we believe a commitment to research and development is crucial to a sustainable and successful aquaculture industry. Since 1986, we have championed aquaculture research in Australia and are internationally recognised for the technology and systems we have developed.”

Pisces Aquaculture was granted consent in 2001 tooperate a commercial fish farm in the Bay, close to Hawks Nest.It folded in 2004 after storms damaged the farm’s pens, stock escaped and a move to raise funds on the Newcastle Stock Exchanged failed.

In 2013 NSW DPI was granted consent tooperate theMarine Aquaculture Research Lease in Providence Bay, adjacent to the Pisces lease site.NSW DPIcalled forresearch partner EOIsin2013-2014 and Huon was selected. Itbought thePisces lease in 2014.

“NSW DPI submitted a joint modification application with Huon Aquaculture to move both the NSW DPI research lease and the Huon lease,” aNSW DPI spokesperson said. “If the modification application is successful, NSW DPI and Huon plan to initially operate three sea pens on the research lease to evaluate Yellowtail Kingfish production.”

In its joint application to theDepartment of Planning and Environment,NSW DPI and Huonproposeto move the twoaquaculture leases from about 3.5 kilometres to 7 or 9km offshore.

It also proposes toincrease the size of fish cages from 80-120 metres in circumference to 168m, increase thesize of the development from 20-30 hectares to 62 hectares,install permanent feed barges at each siteandincrease production from a maximum standing stock of 998 tonnes to 1200 tonnes.

“Trialing production in offshore sea pens is an exciting opportunity to develop this industry and create sustainable seafood production,” the NSW DPI spokesperson said.“Moving the sea pens further offshore and adopting the latest aquaculture technology will result in better environmental outcomes, better production performance and moves the leases away from the Hawks Nest community.”

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