Joint media release: Aquaculture research to investigate new opportunities in Commonwealth waters

4 April 2022

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries, Senator the Hon Jonno Duniam
Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water, the Hon Guy Barnett MP


The Morrison and Gutwein governments have signed an agreement that provides the legal framework for aquaculture research to be undertaken in the Commonwealth waters in Bass Strait.

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries and Senator for Tasmania Jonno Duniam and Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water Guy Barnett highlighted the importance of research to investigate opportunities for the aquaculture industry in offshore areas.

“With new technology and techniques being developed, this arrangement will enable the research needed to test the economic, environmental and operational feasibility of offshore aquaculture,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“Focused research will provide the information we need to better understand the possibilities and potential benefits of aquaculture in deeper waters further offshore, and this approach may provide a template for a future national development of aquaculture in Commonwealth waters. 

“The Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre, which brings together industry, government and research partners with a focus on aquaculture and sustainable offshore resource use, is set to progress a proposal within the area covered by this newly established arrangement.” 

“Australia's aquaculture industry is thriving. This year it is forecast to have a gross value of $2.16 billion across Australia, much of that delivered right here in Tasmania. 

“Sustainable expansion of aquaculture into offshore waters is an enormous opportunity for this sector to grow, creating thousands more jobs and ensuring that the sector can continue to meet the global demand for high quality Australian seafood.”

Assistant Minister Duniam said that following public consultation on the trial area, the area under the arrangement was reduced to minimise potential impacts to other users.

Minister Barnett said the research trial proposal, currently under development, would be considered by the Tasmanian Government in consultation with the Australian Government and it would build on the extensive consultation and preparatory work already undertaken since the Memorandum of Understanding was signed last year. 

Proponents will be required to further consult and apply for a statutory permit before marine aquaculture research activities could proceed.

“This arrangement is a huge step forward and presents a wonderful opportunity for Tasmania to benefit from aquaculture research into fin fish, seaweeds, shellfish or other potential species in deeper more exposed sites and enable further advances in innovation and technology to support potential future aquaculture industries.

“Any aquaculture research will be managed in accordance with the laws of Tasmania, will be fixed-term, of limited scale and within a defined research area. The likely trial site will be in Bass Strait, approximately 6 nautical miles (about 11 km) offshore of Burnie and consideration of any research proposal will involve consultation,” Minister Barnett said.

“We’re pleased to be working with our counterparts in the Australian Government to bring this trial to fruition,” Minister Barnett said.