Using science to inform the management of ocean-based fish farms
Marine Produce Australia, now the Barramundi Group, runs the largest ocean-based barramundi farm in Australia. Located in Cone Bay, this site has oxygen-rich, fast-flowing, pristine waters—all of which are critical to successfully farm fish.
The Barramundi Group was looking to review over five years of data to determine whether their current environmental monitoring and management plan (EMMP) was still appropriate. Our findings? The plan needed to be updated in accordance with the latest aquaculture advice, and the new monitoring program would also have to include considerations for an adjusted level of risk posed by finfish farming. Our work involved extensive statistical analysis of long-term data to help develop a robust, evidence-based argument to support the changes.
The program presented several challenges, from identifying the appropriate environmental indicators, to the selection of tier 1 and 2 triggers. One of the biggest challenges was to design a program that wasn’t impacted by the natural east to west gradient, ensuring the environment was protected—while reducing the incidence of false-positives.
The EMMP is currently under review and is expected to provide a modern and robust approach to environmental monitoring for the farm moving forward.
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