Aquaculture is identified as a transformational opportunity for economic diversification in the Pilbara Regional Investment Blueprint.

Aquaculture in the Pilbara

In the Pilbara Regional Investment Blueprint, prepared by the Pilbara Development Commission in 2015, aquaculture was identified as a potentially game-changing opportunity for the region to create new employment opportunities and export potential.

Globally the fastest-growing food production sector, aquaculture is set to overtake capture fisheries as the major source of seafood and projected to rise to provide 62 per cent of global seafood by 2030. The growth of the aquaculture industry is internationally recognised as a both a significant investment opportunity and a requirement to secure food availability for the growing population.

The Pilbara’s extensive and relatively population-free coastline and inland areas make it ideal for aquaculture with numerous sites are potentially suited for land and marine based developments. A number of species have already been identified as potentially suited for aquaculture within the region including edible oysters, three finfish species (amberjack, yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi) and algae.

Onshore marine aquaculture has significant potential, with a number of coastal areas suitable for pond aquaculture of crustaceans and finfish. In addition, the vast quantities of fresh water associated with mining activities from dewatering and mine pit lakes, in addition to artesian sources, also presents future opportunities for inland aquaculture.

The Pilbara’s abundant sunlight and coastal land make it an ideal location for algae and seaweed culture. While there is the potential for biodiesel production, there is growing recognition of the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical properties of algae and seaweeds for use in human and animal medicines and foods.

The lack of suitable locations in other parts of the world means long-term demand for pristine environments off the WA central and north west coasts places the Pilbara in a strong position to seize this opportunity to diversify and expand the economy.

For more information about the management and regulation of aquaculture in Western Australia visit the Department of Fisheries website.

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