Western Australia’s new multi-species mollusc hatchery

Western Australia’s new multi-species mollusc hatchery WA premier Mark McGowan turning on the taps to start water flowing for this highly significant event for Western Australia’s aquaculture industry

A big win for Western Australia’s aquaculture industry and the the state’s economy was marked as Premier Mark McGowan and Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly opened the new multi-species mollusc hatchery in Albany. The hatchery, fully operational in 2018, will see over 350 WA jobs created over the next ten years on the South Coast.

Tina Thorne, Executive Officer of the Aquaculture Council WA (ACWA), said that members of the Association who grew shellfish initiated the opening of the hatchery, situated at the Albany Aquaculture Park, in response to the the lack of juvenile seed stock (spat), available for grow out purposes.

Establishing hatcheries for individual species is not only capitally expensive, but hard to justify when those facilities lay idle for most of the year.

To try to find a way to solve the problem, the Aquaculture Council commissioned a Feasibility Study and Business Case to look at whether multiple mollusc species could be grown in the one hatchery in a bio-secure manner, assess potential sites and ascertain if it could become economically viable.

“From the results gained, it looked positive and ACWA approached the Government to see if it would support the establishment of a hatchery of this nature,” she said.

The government recognised the opportunity to support the initiative and allocated significant capital funds for the build and to provide for running costs for a number of years.

Ms Thorne anticipates the hatchery will provide a range of bivalve species that will be grown out at various sites around WA which will generate opportunities for local jobs. It is expected that the new hatchery will increase the aquaculture and wild-catch mollusc sectors value by up to $12 million within five years.

“The new hatchery will allow for an increase in commercial-scale farming of edible oysters, mussels, scallops that depend on large quantities of spat,” Tina Thorne said.

“The grow out of these species will result in an increase in both direct and indirect jobs in the regions and significantly, increase the gross value of production (GVP) of the aquaculture industry.”

She said the Aquaculture Committee would like to thank the many officers within the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development who got the hatchery designed and built to first class specifications.

“They are a credit to the Public Sector and they have contributed towards a hatchery for WA that is the envy of the shellfish farmers on the eastern seaboard,” she said.

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