Project number: 2003-223
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $498,512.00
Principal Investigator: Jason E. Tanner
Organisation: SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
Project start/end date: 30 Aug 2003 - 30 Apr 2008


Aquaculture is a rapidly growing industry in Australia, and as such there are substantial issues related to resource allocation and ESD. South Australia is at the forefront of this development with a range of innovative aquaculture industries, an active group in PIRSA Aquaculture addressing policy and management issues, and another in SARDI Aquatic Sciences providing the scientific and technical background information for such matters through targeted research and development (R&D). As such, South Australia provides an ideal model for other States.

While a reasonable level of environmental information exists and, through the Aquafin CRC, continues to grow for tuna farming, this is not the case for most of the other marine aquaculture industry sectors. The purpose of this application is therefore to gather and review existing environmental information, undertake an environmental risk assessment, investigate through targeted R&D the priority environmental impact issues, establish a framework of key indicators on which to base impact assessments, and develop industry sector-based environmental monitoring programs that enable impacts to be detected. Apart from tuna, we currently have very little information on the environmental impacts of finfish farming in South Australian waters, especially for the rapidly growing Yellowtail Kingfish sector. In order to obtain public support for further development of this industry, it is essential that its environmental impacts are assessed, and strategies implemented for reducing any impacts that occur. Similarly, for shellfish farming, there is still a great deal of contention about impacts on the ecosystem, particularly seagrasses, which co-occur with the largest shellfish aquaculture industry in the state – Pacific Oysters.

This project will therefore provide background information for improving and further developing the project “Innovative solutions for aquaculture planning and management – Project 2, Spatial impacts and carrying capacity: Further developing, refining and validating existing models of shellfish and finfish carrying capacity”. Both projects will provide much of the scientific and technical data for input into the project “Innovative solutions for aquaculture planning and management – Project 1, Decision support system for aquaculture development”, where “Decision support system” is defined as a computer based, integrated method for supporting management decisions. Decision support systems must incorporate rigorous and scientifically sound decision criteria and, as such they require a good understanding of the potential environmental impacts that may result from aquaculture, as well as the characteristics of existing or future farm sites and the ecosystem in which they exist.

In response to rapid growth, PIRSA Aquaculture are also developing an environmental management policy in parallel with the AFMF ESD framework (visit Thus, information from the present project will be important for this policy.


1. Review the current environmental status of marine aquaculture in South Australia by assessing the level and adequacy of existing information and information collection protocols in relation to environmental impacts.
2. Assess and prioritise the actual and perceived environmental impacts of marine aquaculture in South Australia using a formal risk assessment framework.
3. Investigate identified high priority environmental impact issues through targeted field based R&D, including the development and evaluation of methodologies and sustainability indicators.
4. Develop aquaculture sector-based optimal environmental monitoring programs, including identifying the parameters to be measured (environmental as well as farm management), the spatial and temporal frequency of monitoring required, and select critical decision points against which ESD performance can be measured.

Final report

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