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What do aquaculture zones deliver?

Stephen Madigan*, Emmanuelle Sloan, Adriana M. O’Brien, Emily Mellor, Sean Sloan, Mehdi Doroudi

PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture
GPO Box 1625
Adelaide, South Australia, 5001

In South Australia, the objects of the Aquaculture Act 2001 include; promoting ecologically sustainable development of marine and inland aquaculture, maximising the benefits to the community, and the efficient and effective regulation of the aquaculture industry. These objectives are served through the development of aquaculture zone policies. To date there are 11 zone policies, approximately 6,000 hectares allocated for aquaculture development and a SA aquaculture production value of $194 million.

With increasing demand for aquaculture space and increased competing demands with the many users of the marine environment, zone policy development serves to strategically plan for and secure waters for future aquaculture production. Aquaculture zones assist in that the integration of broader marine planning processes with future aquaculture development. Through technical investigations and extensive consultation, zone policies are established in areas where sustainable development of aquaculture is most likely to be successful. Minimising environmental impacts, conflict with other users, red tape reduction, and a one-stop-shop are some of the benefits that flow on to industry from establishing aquaculture zones.

Over the last 2 decades zone policies have evolved from relatively simple management plans into comprehensive, well planned policy documents defined by a detailed series of steps. This model ensures that the lessons learned have been incorporated into the policy model, that consideration is given to a range of factors including social, economic and environmental issues and that all stakeholders are given due consideration. The process aims to address the needs of stakeholders concerned with aquaculture development whilst continuing to develop the aquaculture industry.

In addition the development of a comprehensive and well established model provides certainty and transparency to; aquaculture lease and licence holders, Government departments, and other resource users.

In describing the history of zone policies and their application in South Australia, the features and benefits of aquaculture zones as a good model will be articulated. This will include recent examples of zone policies developed for waters adjacent to the Eyre Peninsula.