Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves Management Plan (2005)
Management Report Series No. 33
ISBN: 1 74146 660 1
Preferred way to cite this publication:
Department of Primary Industries (2005). Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves Management Plan. Fisheries Victoria Management Report Series No. 33.
The purpose of the Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves Management Plan (hereafter also referred to as 'the Plan') is to specify the policies and strategies for managing activity within the:
- Dromana Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve (DAFR);
- Mount Martha Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve (MMAFR); and
- Beaumaris Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve (BAFR).
The Plan has been prepared under the requirements of the Fisheries Act 1995 (the Fisheries Act) and has been developed in accordance with Ministerial guidelines. The Plan prescribes management arrangements for the DAFR, BAFR and the MMAFR ('the Reserves') within a framework of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD).
The Reserves consist of existing aquaculture operations and greenfield areas. Existing mussel aquaculture occurs within the DAFR and the BAFR. A 3 ha spat collection zone exists at the BAFR. Greenfield areas are present at the BAFR, DAFR and the MMAFR. The DAFR and BAFR include an established and developing aquaculture industry. The Plan provides for the management and expansion of this industry in an ecologically sustainable manner within the Reserves.
The DAFR is 20 ha located offshore from Martha Point on the Mornington Peninsula. The MMAFR is 150 ha located offshore from Fossil Beach on the Mornington Peninsula. The BAFR is 25 ha located in Beaumaris Bay . The DAFR, MMAFR and the BAFR were all declared as fisheries reserves under the provisions of the Fisheries Act on 6 March 2003.
The scope of the Plan is limited to the Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves and their immediate environs. The Plan is constrained by the provisions of the Fisheries Act; the Victorian Government response to the recommendations of the Environment Conservation Council (ECC) in the final report of their Marine Coastal and Estuarine Investigation (2000); the Ministerial guidelines issued in respect of the preparation of the Plan; and other legislation and policy.
The vision of the Plan is:
"the development of environmentally sustainable, economically viable and socially equitable marine aquaculture at the Reserves that contribute a significant commercial supply of high quality seafood."
To assist in achieving this vision, the Plan has four goals:
- maintenance of the ecological sustainability of the natural resources being utilised;
- the development and growth of an efficient, effective and economically viable aquaculture industry;
- management of the Reserves, reflecting the expectations of other users of the marine environment; and
- clear, transparent and cost-effective management.
The Plan prescribes a range of ecological, economic, social and governance objectives and strategies that reflect the goals of the Plan. To achieve these objectives, the Plan prescribes comprehensive performance indicators, reference points and management triggers.
The Plan also prescribes a suite of management actions including:
- transitional arrangements, where appropriate, for existing licence holders within the Reserves;
- aquaculture licensing arrangements including the development of classes of aquaculture licences specific to each Reserve;
- Crown leasing arrangements for the PAFR consistent with the Victorian Aquaculture fisheries reserves - leasing and licensing policy;
- an environmental management framework including baseline surveys to be undertaken by the Crown lease holders for greenfield sites, an ongoing monitoring program to be undertaken by aquaculture licence holders, and auditing and reporting requirements;
- the requirements for compliance with the relevant translocation guidelines;
- the extension of the Victorian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program to meet industry needs;
- the use of artificial feeds subject to demonstration that such feeding meets the requirements of the State Environment Protection Policy (Waters of Victoria) 2003 and is consistent with the Port Phillip Bay Environmental Management Plan 2002;
- no commercial culture of finfish for the life of the Plan;
- general public access to the Reserves;
- restrictions on non-aquaculture activities within the Reserves;
- the requirement for Fisheries Victoria, Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to survey and provide navigation marking for the Reserves, and the requirements for Crown lease holders to survey and provide navigation marking for Crown leases within the Reserves;
- uniform requirements for size, shape and colour of surface infrastructure, and provisions for attachment;
- the development of an industry code of practice addressing noise and lighting, and waste management;
- a maximum of 500 m of longline backbone per ha;
- development rates determined by Fisheries Victoria in consultation with the relevant stakeholders on a case by case basis, and with reference to their development plan;
- allocation of a research and development site within the MMAFR as required on the basis of strategic research and development needs within the Reserves;
- a requirement that holders of Crown leases and existing licence holders within the Reserves hold public liability trespass insurance to a minimum value of A$10 million; and
- a requirement that holders of Crown leases provide a bond or bank guarantee for the removal of aquaculture equipment.
Other issues covered in the Plan include:
- the reporting of exotic marine organisms and disease;
- production reporting for the Reserves;
- a process for designing the Crown lease dimensions and orientation within the greenfield areas of the Reserves; and
- ownership of stock on the seafloor.
The Plan will provide the basis for the management of the Reserves for a period of three years and, prior to its expiry, the Plan will be reviewed.
Implementation of the Plan will require actions by Government in respect of certain policy matters, by the Department of Primary Industries in respect of day-to-day management, and by other stakeholder entities. To this end the Plan includes a detailed implementation section addressing key actions of the Plan.
The purpose of the Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves Management Plan ('the Plan') is to specify the policies and strategies for managing activity within the Eastern Port Phillip Bay1 Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves ('the Reserves') which are:
- Dromana Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve (DAFR);
- Mount Martha Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve (MMAFR); and
- Beaumaris Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve (BAFR).
The Plan prescribes management for the Reserves which provides for a significant commercial supply of high quality seafood within a framework of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD). The recommendations of the Plan refer to all of the above reserves unless otherwise stated.
The Plan has four goals:
- maintenance of the ecological sustainability of the natural resources being utilised;
- the development of an efficient, effective and economically viable aquaculture industry within the Reserves;
- management of the Reserves reflecting the expectations of other users of the marine environment; and
- clear, transparent and cost-effective management.
The Ministerial guidelines for the preparation of the Plan were published in the Victoria Government Gazette on 31 July 2003 and are shown in Appendix 1.
To assist the reader, a list of acronyms and abbreviations used throughout the text is provided in Appendix 2 and definitions of terms are provided in Appendix 3.
The implementation of the Plan will be facilitated by the development of policies and tools.
Overview of marine aquaculture in Port Phillip Bay
The aquaculture industry in Port Phillip Bay (PPB) has been established for around 25 years, with longline culture of blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) the predominant activity. The blue mussel is a filter feeding bivalve shellfish widely distributed throughout southern Australia. Victorian blue mussels are renowned for their tender flesh and delicious flavour.
In 2003/04 the Victorian mussel aquaculture industry, based in PPB and Western Port, produced approximately 1100 tonnes of mussels, worth over $3.1 million, and is the largest mussel production industry in Australia.
|Area under cultivation (ha)||Production (tonnes)|
Mussel farming is predominantly based on natural settlement of spat, with spat collection undertaken in PPB during winter. In 1989 a spat collection area was made available to mussel farmers licensed within PPB, the Werribee Spat Collection Zone. In 2002, hatchery production of mussel spat in Victoria was undertaken for the first time and these spat are currently ongrowing in PPB.
Mussels are harvested after 15-18 months growout on longlines, and fetch between $1.80-2.50/kg wholesale. Most product is harvested for human consumption and sold live in the shell on the domestic market. However further processing and value-adding, including smoked, marinated and vacuum packed product is being investigated by the industry. Some mussels are produced for bait and spat only.
Table 1: Summary of location, licence type, number of licence holders and total area for established marine aquaculture zones in Port Phillip Bay.
|Location||Licence Type*||Licence holders#||Total area (ha)|
|Grassy Point||Aquaculture (Crown Land – Bivalve Shellfish)||12||42|
|Clifton Springs||Aquaculture (Crown Land – Bivalve Shellfish)||15||81|
|Beaumaris||Aquaculture (Crown Land – Other)||1||3|
|Dromana||Aquaculture (Crown Land – Bivalve Shellfish)||1||3|
# currently a single licence may list sites from multiple areas *aquaculture licences also provide access to the Werribee Spat Collection Zone
Individual licence sites2 are 3 ha. A range of growing locations and conditions allows for product availability from September to June with peak production during December to April. Site diversity helps protect growers from the effects of nuisance algal blooms. Currently within PPB there are 22 aquaculture licences authorising harvest for human consumption from sites totalling 126 ha, and one aquaculture licence and one general permit authorising harvest for bait or spat from two 3 ha sites (Table 1).
Cage culture3 of abalone (Haliotis rubra, H. laevigata and hybrids) within PPB has also been undertaken. This form of aquaculture is in the experimental or developmental phase and significant commercial production has not yet been realised.
Government approved recommendations of the Environment Conservation Council's Marine Coastal and Estuarine Investigation
A major factor identified as limiting marine aquaculture development in Victoria was a lack of access to suitable sites in marine waters. To address this and other issues, the Environment Conservation Council (ECC), at the request of the Victorian Government, completed an investigation of the State's marine, coastal and estuarine areas. Following extensive research, consultation and consideration of environmental, social and economic implications, the ECC prepared recommendations on a system of marine protected areas and areas suitable for marine aquaculture in their final report (ECC 2000).
In their final report the ECC recommended 12 marine aquaculture zones in areas that have demonstrated successful aquaculture performance or growth of target species in the past or would be suitable for target species. These included two land based zones. The zones total 2682 ha, including 983 ha of established farming area. The ECC also recommended that each aquaculture area be subject to preparation of a management plan. It was noted by the ECC that further sites within recommended marine aquaculture zones not be allocated prior to the development of management plans (recommendation 41). The Victorian Government has endorsed the recommendations of the ECC for marine aquaculture, including the 12 marine aquaculture zones.
The Victorian Government response to the recommendations of the Final Report of the ECC's Marine Coastal and Estuarine Investigation (2000) for marine aquaculture is provided in Appendix 4.
1 For the purpose of this fisheries reserves management planEastern Port Phillip Bay is defined as 'the waters of Port Phillip Bay east of a line from the point where the Yarra River enters Port Phillip Bayto Arthurs Seat'.
2 A licence site is the area specified on an aquaculturelicence issued under section 43 of the Fisheries Act within which aquaculture activity is authorised.
3 Cage culture includes the culture of abalone contained incages suspended in mid-water and/or movable cageslocated on the seafloor.
Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves
The Dromana, Mount Martha and Beaumaris Aquaculture Zones were declared as fisheries reserves by Order in Council in accordance with section 88 of the Fisheries Act on March 6, 2003. Under the Fisheries Act a management plan must be prepared in respect of a fisheries reserve as soon as possible after the fisheries reserve is declared.
Locations of the Reserves are shown in Figure 1.
Detailed descriptions of the attributes of the Reserves are provided in Appendices 5, 6, and 7. A summary of those descriptions is provided in this section.
Attributes of the Dromana Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve
The DAFR is 20 ha (approximately 0.45 km by 0.45 km) in total area, and comprises the existing Dromana aquaculture harvesting area (3 ha) and a 17 ha greenfield extension.
The DAFR is located approximately 0.78 km offshore from Martha Point on the Mornington Peninsula and has the following coordinates:
|Datum GDA94 (Degrees and decimal minutes)|
Bathymetry and sediment characteristics
Water depth at the DAFR ranges from 9 to 11 m. The sediment predominantly consists of very fine to medium grained sand with a very coarse component (Appendix 5).
Benthic fauna, epifauna and epiflora
The benthic fauna of the DAFR consists of a few species, dominated by crustaceans of the class Ostracoda, order Cumacea, family Corophiidae, and annelids of the families Lumbrineridae and Polynoidae (Appendix 5).
The ascidian Pyura stolonifera and tufts of macroalgae from various taxa4 are sparsely distributed throughout the DAFR (Appendix 5).
Currents, wind and waves
The DAFR is subject to daily tidal flushing that generates considerable mixing and exchange of water. Modelled current directions vary from north to north-east on the flood tide, and from south-south-east to south-south-west on the ebb tide. Peak currents generally range from 0.04 to 0.18 m/s.
The predominant winds in south-eastern Port Phillip Bay are from the south (20%) and the north (18%). The most common wind speed range was 21–30 km/h (35%) followed by the 11–20 km/h and 31-40 km/h (20%), greater than 40 km/h (16%) and 10 km/h or less (7%).
Wave modelling indicates that the DAFR has waves greater than 0.5 metres 38% of the time. These waves are primarily produced by winds from the north (10%) and the west (9%). Under a modelled steady 40 knot wind the highest significant wave height at the DAFR is likely to be 2.1 m from the north-west (Appendix 5).
No notable freshwater discharges from natural waterways presently occur near the DAFR. The adjacent urban developments are sewered. Marine shellfish contamination events are commonly rainfall driven. There are some small stormwater drains along the adjacent shoreline.
The DAFR is monitored under the Victorian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program (VSQAP) and has been classified as 'Conditionally approved', the second highest Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program (ASQAP) water quality classification. Fisheries Victoria is currently seeking Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) accreditation for the DAFR for harvest of shellfish for export. Food safety standard of product at harvest within the DAFR is assured through precautionary closures based on rainfall and phytoplankton triggers (Appendix 8). The mean annual rainfall in the Dromana area is 886 mm.
Figure 1: Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves
Table 2: Ports and infrastructure potentially available for industry to service the Reserves.
|Servicing port||Distance (direct, km)||Vehicle Access||Mooring||Loading Infrastructure|
|Dromana||3||10||37||Parks Victoria only||No||No|
|Mornington||9.5||1||25||Parks Victoria Only
Public limited to carpark
|Mordialloc||35||24||3||Yes, from Mordialloc Creek||Yes||Yes|
|Rye||15||23||45||Parks Victoria only||No||No|
|Rosebud||8||16||40||Parks Victoria only||Yes||No|
|Sorrento||20||27||47||Yes, load restriction||Yes||No|
Attributes of the Mount Martha Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve
The MMAFR is a 150 ha (approximately 1.9 km by 0.8 km) greenfield area.
The MMAFR is located approximately 0.75 km offshore from Fossil Beach on the Mornington Peninsula and has the following coordinates:
|Datum GDA94 (Degrees and decimal minutes)|
Bathymetry and sediment characteristics
Water depth at the MMAFR ranges from 11 to 17 m. The sediment predominantly consists of very fine to medium-grained sand with a silt component. A small area of rocky reef is present along the eastern boundary of the MMAFR (Appendix 6).
Benthic fauna, epifauna and epiflora
The benthic fauna of the MMAFR consists of many species, dominated by annelids of the family Lumbrineridae, crustaceans from the order Cumacea and family Corophiidae, the cnidarian Edwardsia viviparaI and molluscs from the family Veneridae (Appendix 6).
Tufts of macroalgae from various taxa, are sparsely distributed throughout the MMAFR (Appendix 6).
Currents, wind and waves
The MMAFR is subject to daily tidal flushing that generates considerable mixing and exchange of water. Modelled current directions vary from north to north-east on the flood tide, and from south to south-west on the ebb tide. Peak currents generally range from 0.04 to 0.16 m/s.
The predominant winds in south-eastern Port Phillip Bay are from the south (20%) and the north (18%). The most common wind speed range was 21–30 km/h (35%) followed by the 11–20 km/h and 31-40 km/h (20%), greater than 40 km/h (16%) and 10 km/h or less (7%).
Wave modelling indicates that the MMAFR has waves greater than 0.5 metres 44% of the time. These waves are primarily produced by winds from the north (10%) and the west (10%). Under a modelled steady 40 knot wind the highest significant wave height at the MMAFR is likely to be 2.1 m from the north-west. (Appendix 6).
No notable freshwater discharges occur from natural waterways near the MMAFR. The adjacent urban developments are sewered. Marine shellfish contamination events are commonly rainfall driven. The mean annual rainfall for the Mount Martha area is 810 mm.
Attributes of the Beaumaris Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve
The BAFR is 25 ha (approximately 0.5 km by 0.5 km), and comprises the existing Beaumaris aquaculture area (6 ha) approximately 0.4 km offshore and a 19 ha greenfield extension that is approximately 0.6 km offshore.
The BAFR is located in Beaumaris Bay approximately 0.64 km offshore from Table Rock Point and has the following coordinates:
|Datum GDA94 (Degrees and decimal minutes)|
Bathymetry and sediment characteristics
Water depth at the BAFR ranges from 5 to 7 m. The sediment predominantly consists of very fine to medium-grained sand with a silt component, with large quantities of broken shell fragments on the surface of the benthos. A small area of sponge colonised rocky reef was recorded along the southern boundary of the BAFR (Appendix 7).
Benthic fauna, epifauna and epiflora
The benthic fauna of the BAFR consists of many species, dominated by annelids of the families Lumbrineridae, Capitellidae and Magelonidae, crustaceans from the order Cumacea and echinoderms from the class Ophiuroidea (Appendix 7).
Sparse aggregations of the Ascidian Pyura stolonifera, and tufts of macroalgae of various taxa were distributed throughout the BAFR.
Currents, wind and waves
The BAFR is subject to daily tidal flushing that generates considerable mixing and exchange of water. Modelled current directions vary from north to east on the flood tide, and from southsouth-west to west on the ebb tide. Peak currents generally range from 0.02 to 0.12 m/s.
The predominant winds at the Fawkner Beacon are from the north (27%) and the south (19%). The most common wind speed range was 21–30 km/h (33%) followed by the 11–20 km/h (27%), 31-40 km/h (17%), 10 km/h or less (14%) and greater than 40 km/h (10%).
Wave modelling indicates that the BAFR has waves greater than 0.5 metres 29% of the time.
These waves are primarily produced by winds from the south (6%), the south-south-west (6%) and the west (6%). Under a modelled steady 40 knot wind the highest significant wave height at the BAFR is likely to be 2.2 m from the south-west. (Appendix 7).
No notable freshwater discharges occur from natural waterways near the BAFR, however the Balcombe Creek enters PPB 2.8 km south of the BAFR. The adjacent urban developments are sewered, however there are numerous stormwater drains along the surrounding foreshore. Marine shellfish contamination events are commonly rainfall driven. The mean annual rainfall for the Beaumaris area is 689 mm.
The BAFR was previously monitored under the VSQAP. The proximity of the site to stormwater drains resulted in a rainfall trigger of only 3.4 mm. The BAFR was to be classified as 'Conditionally restricted' under the ASQAP, and as a result the VSQAP was discontinued.
Access and serviceability
The ports, infrastructure and provisions detailed in Table 2 are potentially available for industry to service the Reserves. Shore-based infrastructure is beyond the scope of this Plan. However, further provision for and development of shore-based infrastructure will be investigated in consultation with the appropriate stakeholders and other bodies.
Overview of aquaculture activity in the Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves
Mussel aquaculture has been undertaken in the Reserves since 1983.
At present surface longlines are the commercial aquaculture equipment used in Eastern Port Phillip Bay. Surface longlines consist of anchors, ropes and floats. The rope is usually 150–200 m in length, with a series of floats supporting the central section of the rope from which mussels are suspended on droppers. The number and size of the floats are dependent on the weight of the culture equipment and tidal drag on the longline.
The geographical separation of Reserves from other aquaculture reserves in Port Phillip Bay and Western Port may provide farmers with harvest time diversity. The location of the BAFR provides spat collection opportunities.
Other users of the Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves and environs
Other current and potential users of the Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves and environs include:
- commercial shipping;
- recreational boating, fishing and diving;
- charter boat operators; and
- commercial fishing.
The Port of Melbourne is accessed from the eastern side of PPB via the South Channel. The South Channel is 350-850 m wide and has a depth of approximately 13 m. The Port of Melbourne Corporation (POMC) manages the South Channel and all other commercial navigation channels in PPB. The Reserves are not located within any commercial navigation channels.
Eastern Port Phillip Bay is a popular area for recreational boating. Yachting regattas are commonly held in Eastern Port Phillip Bay by the numerous yacht clubs located along the coast. The greenfield MMAFR will alienate 150 ha previously available for recreational boating however this is a relatively small area which is not unique within PPB. It is not anticipated that the extension to the existing aquaculture areas at the DAFR will have any significant additional impact on recreational boating activity in Eastern Port Phillip Bay. The BAFR is located in close proximity to the Beaumaris Motor Yacht Squadron, and Keefers Boatshed and Jetty. The BAFR will be marked to assist yachts and boats transiting Beaumaris Bay.
Recreational fishing is regarded by many in Victoria as one of the most important uses of PPB. The key recreational species in PPB are sand flathead (Platycephalus bassensis), King George whiting (Sillaginodes punctata), southern calamari (Sepioteuthis australis), southern sea garfish (Hyporhamphus melanochir) and snapper (Pagrus auratus). The locations of the Reserves will not impact upon shore-based fishing. The greenfield MMAFR and the extensions to the existing aquaculture areas at the DAFR and the BAFR will alienate areas previously available to recreational fishing, however these areas are relatively small and do not contain fishing areas that are unique in PPB.
Recreational diving is common throughout PPB with divers taking part in a range of activities including reef dives, wreck dives, photography, marine mammal viewing and collection of fish and shellfish. The Reserves have limited appeal to recreational divers due to the lack of reefs and unique substrates. Scallop beds within the Reserves are not unique in PPB. As a result recreational divers do not generally use the Reserves for scallop collection.
Charter boat operators
The charter boat industry in PPB provides recreational fishing, aquatic mammal viewing and diving services. The nature of the environment within the Reserves and the relative absence of marine mammals in these areas suggest that the Reserves are not a major charter boat destination at the present time.
The charter boat operators in the Geelong Arm mainly focus on fishing trips in deeper waters of PPB. The Reserves may provide additional features of interest on charter trips. The infrastructure to be developed for commercial aquaculture within the Reserves may attract fish, leading to an increased interest by charter boat operators in the future.
The Port Phillip Bay fishery has an average annual value of $3 million (2000-2004). The key species (and the average annual landed value between 2000-2004) caught in PPB are King George whiting ($849,000), southern calamari ($419,000), pilchards ($291,000), snapper ($480,000) and southern anchovy ($258,000). These five species account for almost 80% of the PPB catch based on value.
Information on the PPB fishery is recorded and published by Fisheries Victoria. Table 3 details the average commercial catch for the surrounding areas for each of the Reserves from 2000 to 2004. Note that the Reserves occupy only a small proportion of each area.
Table 3: Average commercial catch for the reporting grid (2000–2004).
|Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve||Average value ($ million)||Average tonnage||Approximate % area occupied|
4 Multiple species from the phyla Chlorophyta,Phaeophyta and Rhodophyta.
Current management arrangements
The term aquaculture is generally used to describe all types of aquatic farming, whether in fresh, brackish or seawater. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (http://www.fao.org/fishery/en) defines aquaculture as:
"… the farming of aquatic organisms, including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants. Farming implies some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding and protection from predators."
The DAFR and BAFR include an established aquaculture industry. The Plan provides for the management and expansion of this industry in an ecologically sustainable manner within the Reserves.
A range of Government legislation and policies are relevant to aquaculture. The key Victorian legislation in regard to aquaculture development in offshore areas includes:
- Fisheries Act 1995;
- Coastal Management Act 1995;
- Land Act 1958; and
- Environment Protection Act 1970.
Fisheries Victoria is the lead agency in aquaculture development in Victoria and operates in accordance with the relevant objectives of the Fisheries Act:
"to provide for the management, development and use of Victoria's fishery, aquaculture industries and associated aquatic biological resources in an efficient, effective and ecologically sustainable manner"; and
"to promote sustainable commercial fishing and viable aquaculture industries and quality recreational fishing opportunities for the present and future generations".
To deliver on these objectives Fisheries Victoria provides the core functions of licensing, administration, policy development and management planning. In addition, Fisheries Victoria provides resources for research and development, regional extension, fish health management and shellfish quality assurance.
The purpose of the Coastal Management Act 1995 (the Coastal Management Act) includes:
- to provide for coordinated strategic planning and management for the Victorian coast; and
- to provide a coordinated approach to approvals for the use and development of coastal Crown land.
The Land Act 1958 (the Land Act) provides for the granting of leases and licences for the use of Crown lands. Section 134 of the Land Act provides for the issue of leases for non-agricultural purposes (for example aquaculture). Section 134 leases provide exclusive occupancy rights.
The Environment Protection Act 1970 (the Environment Protection Act) makes provisions for "the protection of the environment". Accordingly the Environment Protection Act provides for the regulation of discharge of waste into the environment, the prevention and control of pollution and noise, the protection and improvement of the quality of the environment, and specification of standards and criteria for the protection of beneficial uses (including aquaculture).
Aquaculture fisheries reserves
The Victorian Government has jurisdiction over marine aquaculture within the State's waters. The Government has endorsed zones within the estuarine and marine waters of Victoria for aquaculture development. These zones correspond with the zones recommended for marine aquaculture by the ECC in the final report of their Marine Coastal and Estuarine Investigation (ECC 2000). The ECC noted that it was expected that these zones be established as fisheries reserves under section 88 of the Fisheries Act. The zones within eastern Port Phillip Bay have been declared as fisheries reserves for the purposes of aquaculture and management plans are to be prepared for each fisheries reserve under Part three of the Fisheries Act.
Authorisation required to undertake aquaculture
Aquaculture activity is authorised by aquaculture licences issued under the Fisheries Act. An aquaculture licence gives an aquaculturist the authority to conduct aquaculture activity in a specified area (the licence site) for a specified period.
Aquaculture licences list the specified area, specify the species of fish (as defined under the Fisheries Act) that may be farmed, the licence period (generally 12 months), harvesting restrictions and quality assurance programs, production return requirements, operational management controls and environmental management provisions.
For the purpose of the Fisheries Act an aquaculture licence is a prescribed class of renewable and transferable fishery licence. The Fisheries Act currently prescribes classes of aquaculture licences that may specify Crown land including: Aquaculture (Crown Land—Other), Aquaculture (Crown Land—Bivalve Shellfish), and Aquaculture (Crown Land—Abalone) Licence.
An Aquaculture (Crown Land—Other) Licence authorises the licence holder, on the Crown land and in or on the protected waters covering that land specified in the licence:
- to use, form or create a habitat for hatching, rearing, breeding, displaying or growing fish (other than bivalve shellfish for human consumption, abalone or eels) or fishing bait specified in the licence for sale or other commercial purposes;
- to hatch, rear, breed, display or grow fish (other than bivalve shellfish for human consumption, abalone or eels) or fishing bait specified in the licence for sale or other commercial purposes; and
- to use commercial aquaculture equipment specified in the licence.
An Aquaculture (Crown Land—Bivalve Shellfish) Licence authorises the licence holder, on the Crown land and in or on the protected waters covering that land specified in the licence:
- to use, form or create a habitat for rearing or growing bivalve shellfish specified in the licence for human consumption, for sale or other commercial purposes;
- to rear or grow bivalve shellfish specified in the licence for human consumption for sale or other commercial purposes; and
- to use commercial aquaculture equipment specified in the licence.
Holders of an Aquaculture (Crown Land - Bivalve Shellfish) Licence are required to participate in the Victorian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program (VSQAP).
An Aquaculture (Crown Land—Abalone) Licence authorises the licence holder, on the Crown land and in or on the protected waters covering that land specified in the licence:
- to use, form or create a habitat for hatching, rearing, breeding, displaying or growing abalone (including a commercial quantity) specified in the licence for sale or other commercial purposes;
- to hatch, rear, breed, display or grow abalone (including a commercial quantity) specified in the licence for sale or other commercial purposes;
- to use commercial aquaculture equipment specified in the licence;
- to possess abalone (including a commercial quantity) which has been hatched, reared, bred or grown under the licence at the area specified in the licence;
- to process (other than to shuck) abalone (including a commercial quantity) which has been hatched, reared, bred, displayed or grown under the licence at the area specified in the licence; and
- to sell abalone (including a commercial quantity) which has been hatched, reared, bred, displayed or grown under the licence at the area specified in the licence.
In accordance with the Fisheries Act, aquaculture licences are subject to any conditions imposed by the Fisheries Act, any conditions that are set out in the Fisheries Regulations 1998 (the Fisheries Regulations) and any conditions that the Secretary, DPI thinks appropriate and that are expressed or referred to in the licence. Failure to comply with a condition of a fishery licence is an offence under the Fisheries Act.
Shellfish quality assurance
The VSQAP operates within Victoria monitoring aquaculture harvesting areas from which bivalve shellfish may be harvested for human consumption. The VSQAP is the Victorian implementation of the ASQAP, an internationally recognised program. Aquaculture fisheries reserves compliant with the VSQAP may be accredited for the harvest of product for export. Fisheries Victoria is presently responsible for administering the VSQAP. The monitoring component of the program has been outsourced.
Shellfish quality assurance has occurred in Victoria since 1987. Aquaculture (Crown Land – Bivalve Shellfish) Licences entitle commercial production of bivalve shellfish for the purposes of human consumption and establishes a formula for calculating an industry VSQAP levy. The industry VSQAP levy represents one-third of the total costs of administering the VSQAP program as determined by the Secretary, DPI. The levy does not apply to farmers only producing bivalve spat for the purposes of ongrowing, or bait.
Shellfish harvesting for human consumption is regulated by harvest area closures using precautionary rainfall and phytoplankton triggers (Appendix 8). In addition, biotoxin events are managed under the Biotoxin Management Plan 2004.
At present the VSQAP monitors the DAFR. The extension of the VSQAP to meet industry needs will be considered in the Plan.
An aquaculture compliance strategy has been developed for the Port Phillip Region that includes the Reserves. The strategy identifies compliance with licence conditions and lease clauses, including infrastructure type and location, labelling, and activity undertaken within the Reserves, as a priority. Compliance with the VSQAP, and in particular harvesting closures, to protect human health is also a priority of the strategy.
The co-management of fisheries and aquaculture within Victoria is a process involving four groups of entities. The first comprises the peak bodies: the Seafood Industry Victoria (SIV), VRFish (Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body), and the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA).
The second group for marine aquaculture in Victoria comprises of existing aquaculture operators represented by bodies such as the Victorian Marine Farmers Incorporated and the Victorian Abalone Growers Association.
The next group comprises the Fisheries Co-Management Council (FCC) and its technical based committee.
The fourth group is the government agencies, including the DPI of which Fisheries Victoria is a Division.
The above co-management entities will ensure that the marine aquaculture industry is appropriately represented during consultation regarding decisions that may impact on the industry.
Preparation of the Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves Management Plan
Part three of the Fisheries Act provides the legislative framework for the preparation of management plans. The Fisheries Act also provides the means for the Secretary, DPI to implement many of the recommendations of a management plan. The Fisheries Regulations and licence conditions provide the statutory rules and licence entitlements and conditions governing commercial aquaculture.
The process for developing management plans is well defined and entails the following steps:
- identification of relevant issues and options for addressing those issues;
- preparation of a draft management plan addressing the issues identified and developing the options for dealing with the issues; and
- finalisation of the draft management plan following stakeholder submissions.
The Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves Management Plan was prepared by Fisheries Victoria, assisted by a standing committee comprising representatives from key stakeholders including the peak bodies (VRFish and SIV) recognised under the Fisheries Act, the FCC, the DPI and the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) (Appendix 9). The role of the standing committee was to advise the Executive Director, Fisheries Victoria, DPI with respect to the conformance of the Plan with the requirements of the Fisheries Act and the Ministerial guidelines, and to respond to community consultation on the draft Plan.
The issues that are presented in the Plan have been identified from other management plans from Victoria, other states and countries, consultation with industry and government agencies, and other documentation such as policies, plans, research reports and assessments (including risk assessment; see below).
The issues addressed include the requirements of the Fisheries Act, Ministerial guidelines issued in respect of the fisheries reserves and emerging issues. In cases where a number of issues arise within a topic these issues are presented under subheadings which identify the particular issues.
The scope of the Plan is:
- limited to Eastern Port Philip Bay and consideration of their immediate environs;
- consistent with the provisions of the Fisheries Act and Fisheries Regulations, the Victorian Government response to the recommendations of the ECC in the final report of their Marine Coastal and Estuarine Investigation (2000), and the Ministerial guidelines issued in respect of the Plan;
- consistent with other key legislation, including:
- Coastal Management Act (Victoria) 1995;
- Environment Protection Act (Victoria) 1970;
- Environment Protection and Bio-diversity Conservation Act (Commonwealth) 1999;
- Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (Victoria) 1988;
- Land Act (Victoria) 1958;
- Marine Act (Victoria) 1988;
- Native Title Act (Commonwealth) 1993; and
- consistent with other key Government policies, including:
- Guidelines for Assessing Translocations of Live Aquatic Organisms in Victoria 2003;
- National Aquaculture Action Agenda 2002;
- National Competition Policy 1995;
- Office of Regulatory Reform Aquaculture Task Force Report 1999;
- State Environment Protection Policy (Waters of Victoria) 2003 and the relevant schedules;
- Victoria's Biodiversity Strategy 1997;
- Victorian Aquaculture Strategy 1998;
- Victorian Coastal Strategy 2002;
- Victorian Government response to the ENRC Inquiry into Fisheries Management - First Report: Co-Management 2001;
- Victorian Government response to the ENRC Inquiry into Fisheries Management - Second Report 2002; and
- Victorian Government response to the ENRC Inquiry into Utilisation of Victorian Native Flora and Fauna 2000.
Objectives of the Plan
As previously stated, the purpose of the Plan is to ensure the management of the Reserves is undertaken within a framework of ESD, which incorporates principles of environmental sustainability, economic viability, social equity and governance. Accordingly the Plan addresses objectives under four key headings.
A key aspect of the Plan is to provide for the sustainable use of the natural resources within the Reserves. To this end the Plan specifies ecological objectives, strategies, performance indicators, reference points and management triggers for the Reserves. Additionally, the Plan specifies environmental survey, monitoring and reporting requirements to assess the effectiveness of management, in association with formal processes for deciding on appropriate actions in the event of adverse outcomes.
The Plan aims to promote the development of an efficient, effective and economically viable aquaculture industry. In pursuit of this aim, the Plan provides for the maximum sustainable level of development, research and development, the appropriate allocation of water, security of occupancy rights and transitional arrangements for existing industry within the Reserves.
An important goal of the Plan is the management of the Reserves that provides for, as far as possible, social equity. To this end the Plan recognises the rights of other users of the marine environment. The Plan will provide for maximum benefit to the community and promote those benefits to the broader community.
In respect of governance, the Plan aims to provide clear, transparent and cost-effective management of the Reserves. In pursuit of this goal the Plan will be consistent with government legislation and policies on resource allocation, the issuing of aquaculture licences and Crown leases, and recovery of attributed costs. The Plan will also address the regulation of licensed activities with the aim of maximising compliance. This will be achieved by developing a compliance framework including the development of a compliance strategy, and through the quantification and monitoring of enforcement targets. Additionally the Plan provides for the appropriate level of clear and timely reporting to the community in relation to the ecological and commercial status of the Reserves.
The key issues and risks around each objective of the Plan were identified through an ESD-based risk assessment that followed the National ESD Aquaculture Framework (Fletcher et al. 2004).
Critical ecosystem components and current or potential threats
Aquaculture can impact on the marine environment, however the actual risks associated with marine aquaculture development are site specific depending on the species, location (characteristics and sensitivity), culture system and husbandry methods employed. Site specific risks have been assessed for the Reserves and management measures are detailed in the Plan.
Bivalve shellfish will initially dominate aquaculture activity at the Reserves, with potential for development of abalone cage culture. Bivalve shellfish are farmed using techniques reliant on natural productivity (no active feeding), resulting in a net removal of nutrients from the water column at harvest. Cage abalone aquaculture requires use of harvested macroalgae and or artificial feeds (active feeding) in addition to natural productivity. The ecosystem issues associated with bivalve shellfish and abalone cage culture are summarised in Appendix 10.
Finfish aquaculture and abalone ranching5 will not be considered in the life of this Plan.
5 Abalone ranching is the non-contained culture of abalone on structures.
Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves Management Plan
Duration of the Plan
The Plan will provide the basis for the management of the DAFR, BAFR and MMAFR for a period of three years. Prior to that time the Plan will be subject to review. Should there be a need for the Minister to amend the Plan prior to its review, notice of this intention will be published in the Victoria Government Gazette and there will be formal consultation with stakeholder groups.
The recommendations of the Plan refer to all of the above reserves unless otherwise stated.
Vision of the Plan
The vision of the Plan is:
"the development of ecologically sustainable, economically viable and socially equitable marine aquaculture at the aquaculture fisheries reserves of Eastern Port Phillip Bay that contribute a significant commercial supply of high quality seafood".
Management objectives and strategies
The objectives and strategies designed to implement the vision of the Plan are as follows:
- to ensure the ecological health of the areas adjacent to the Reserves are not jeopardised as a result of aquaculture activity within the Reserves;
- to limit ecological impacts within the Reserves as a result of aquaculture activity to local, acceptable and reversible change; and
- to provide management responsiveness to changes in the ecological health within the Reserves and adjacent areas.
- identify the biological and ecological factors relevant to the management of the Reserves;
- identify critical components of the environment, current or potential threats to
those components, and existing or proposed preventative measures;
- specify permissible aquaculture activities consistent with the principles of ESD-based aquaculture;
- specify relevant performance indicators, reference points, management triggers and monitoring requirements;
- specify management actions to be undertaken in response to management triggers being breached; and
- monitor areas and functions of licence holders and instigate appropriate management actions.
- to facilitate economically efficient, effective and sustainable commercial aquaculture production within the Reserves;
- to provide for commercial aquaculture opportunities within Reserves to be utilised at the maximum sustainable level;
- to encourage aquaculture investment within the Reserves by contributing to a positive investment climate and maintaining market access; and
- to enhance commercial production by facilitating appropriate research and development.
- identify the economic factors relevant to the management of the Reserves;
- define a process to determine the area to be allocated, size of Crown lease sites and infrastructure restrictions consistent with best practice marine farming and the carrying capacity of the Reserves;
- provide for consent to use and develop Crown Land, and occupational authorisation and security of tenure for aquaculture investors and existing licence holders;
- identify relevant research and development needs, and facilitate and promote research and development collaboration in the Reserves;
- develop and maintain the VSQAP and other quality assurance programs relevant to the Reserves where appropriate;
- identify critical components of the environment required for sustainable aquaculture production, current or potential threats to those components, and existing or proposed preventative measures; and
- specify the minimum rate of infrastructure development on aquaculture sites within the Reserves.
- to recognise the rights of other users of the marine environment consistent with the Victorian Government response to the ECC recommendations for marine aquaculture;
- to utilise marine environmental monitoring information for the benefit of the wider community; and
- to facilitate maximum benefit to the community where there is private commercial use of a publicly owned resource.
- identify the social factors relevant to the management of the Reserves;
- specify navigation marking requirements;
- specify guidelines regulating or restricting non-aquaculture activity in the Reserves;
- specify and make available appropriate environmental and production data for broader public use; and
- increase awareness of the Reserves aquaculture and its associated regional economic development and employment to the wider community.
- to provide for open and transparent allocation of resources;
- to provide management which is cost effective and transparent, including open and transparent reporting of ESD outcomes;
- to provide for the recovery of the attributable costs of management, including research and development and compliance, in line with Government policy; and
- to ensure licensed activities are appropriately regulated according to legislation.
- recognise government policies relating to cost effective and transparent management, public reporting of ESD outcomes, and recovery of attributed costs;
- recognise criteria to be used in respect of the issue of Crown leases, aquaculture licences and general permits;
- recognise co-management entities and associated functions, and stakeholder satisfaction;
- establish compliance criteria and recognise compliance management strategies; and
- provide transitional arrangements for existing licence holders to attain compliance with the Plan.
Performance indicators, reference points and management triggers
Performance indicators are quantities to be measured in order to track the status of the Reserves relevant to the stated objectives. Where appropriate information collected over the history of aquaculture within aquaculture fisheries reserves has been included in developing these indicators.
Reference points represent the status management wishes to achieve. When the status is unacceptable, management triggers indicate the requirement for an appropriate remedial action.
Table 4: Performance indicators, reference points and management triggers for the Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves Management Plan
|Criteria to be measured||Management objective(a)||Performance indicator||Reference point(b)||Management trigger(c)|
|Ecological objectives||ecological health||adjacent areas of PPB not jeopardised by aquaculture within the Reserves||indices of ecological health(d), including in and on substrate species composition, sediment particle size distribution, water/sediment chemistry||no change attributable to aquaculture detected outside the Reserves||change attributable to aquaculture detected outside the Reserves|
|ecological health||ecological effects within the Reserves local, acceptable and reversible||indices of ecological health (refer above)||local, acceptable and reversible change attributable to aquaculture activity within the Reserves||changes not local, not acceptable and or not reversible attributable to aquaculture within the Reserves|
|ecological health||management adequately responsive to changes in ecological status within the Reserves||efficiency and effectiveness of management||formal issue resolution process adequately implemented||failure to resolve issues formally|
|Economic objectives||economic efficiency||aquaculture production to be efficient, effective and sustainable||aquaculture profit (for example market values)||benchmark profitability indicators reached||profitability indicators not reached|
|production||aquaculture activities in the Reserves are not impacted by nonaquaculture activities||commercial productivity||no impact of nonaquaculture activities on production||impact of nonaquaculture activities on production|
|production||opportunities for commercial aquaculture fully utilised||return on capital||return on capital similar to comparable existing aquaculture sectors achieved||return on capital not similar to comparable existing aquaculture sectors|
|production||enhanced aquaculture production value through targeted research and development||commercial productivity||increased production during life of the Plan attributed to research and development||no increase in production attributed to research and development|
|investment||positive investment environment||investment in aquaculture development within the Reserves||allocated sites developed at appropriate rates||allocated sites not developed at appropriate rates|
|Social objectives||amenity to general community and other users||maintenance of amenity value||stakeholder satisfaction||amenity values maintained||amenity values not maintained|
|community benefit from marine environment monitoring||ecological monitoring information available to the wider community||standards of reporting||reporting on time and on target, by accessible means||reporting not on time, not on target, or not accessible|
|community benefit||community benefit where there is private commercial use of a publicly owned resource||economic development and employment||benchmark economic development and employment indicators reached||economic development and employment indicators not reached|
|community benefit||community benefit where there is private commercial use of a publicly owned resource||stakeholder satisfaction||demonstrated community benefit from the Reserves||no demonstrated community benefit from the Reserves|
|Governance objectives||allocation||open and transparent allocation||stakeholder satisfaction||formal issue resolution process adequately implemented||failure to resolve issues formally|
|management costs||cost-effective management||total cost of management||costs within acceptable range||costs outside acceptable range|
|reporting||ensure environmental, economic and compliance outcomes are appropriately reported||stakeholder satisfaction||reporting on time and on target, by accessible means||reporting not on time, not on target, or not accessible|
|cost recovery||recovery of attributable management costs||recovery of attributable costs||full cost recovery implemented by the end of the Plan||partial cost recovery only implemented by the end of the Plan|
|co-management||stakeholders and government sharing responsibility and involvement in management||existence of comanagement entities, functions of entities and stakeholder satisfaction||all appropriate issues adequately dealt with through comanagement framework||all appropriate issues not adequately dealt with through comanagement framework|
|compliance||ensure farm operation are within legislation||compliance indices(e)||compliance targets achieved||compliance targets not achieved|
- Management objectives are directly relevant to one or more of the listed objectives of the Plan or parts thereof.
- Some reference points will be further elucidated during the life of the Plan.
- Some management triggers will be further elucidated during the life of the Plan.
- Compliance indices will include, but not be limited to, numbers and hours of quality inspections, and numbers and types of warnings and offences.
Performance indicators, reference points and management triggers for the Plan are shown in Table 4 and have been assigned to each of the Reserves' objectives, as appropriate. Current information does not allow for the precise definition of all performance indicators and reference points and further research is required to provide this information.
It should be noted that the action resulting from non-compliance of a management trigger is described under the relevant section in the Plan. However, in those cases, where there is not a clear action described in the Plan, the action resulting from non-compliance of a management trigger will be a review of the particular issue.
The Plan makes recommendations on the responsibilities of Crown lease and aquaculture licence holders. These responsibilities are summarised in Appendix 11.
Transitional arrangements for existing licence holders
The Reserves include previously established aquaculture zones within the DAFR (3 ha) and the BAFR (6 ha). These zones were established prior to the declaration of the Plan.
There is an existing Aquaculture (Crown Land – Bivalve Shellfish) Licence authorising mussel aquaculture within the DAFR and an existing Aquaculture (Crown Land) Licence within the BAFR. Most licences also authorise spat collection within the 25 ha Werribee Spat Collection Zone.
A general permit presently authorises spat collection in an additional 3 ha within the BAFR. This general permit will not be reissued.
Transitional arrangements will be recommended to ensure existing licence holders comply with new management arrangements. These transitional arrangements will be specified in the relevant sections of the Plan, however they are also summarised in Appendix 12.
The new management arrangements recommended in the Plan relate to three broad categories of risk: human health and safety, environment, and social. In regard to management arrangements relating to human health and safety, compliance will be required within three months of the declaration of the Plan. In regard to management arrangements relating to environmental risk, compliance will be required within 12 months of the declaration of the Plan. In regard to management arrangements relating to social risk, compliance will be required within five years of the declaration of the Plan.
The declaration of the Reserves provides the opportunity for increased production of presently cultured species, plus the opportunity for the commercial and experimental culture of new species.
Consideration of the species permitted for culture in the Reserves must be consistent with Government legislation and policies including:
- the Guidelines for Assessing Translocations of Live Aquatic Organisms in Victoria 2003;
- the Victorian Government response to the final report of the Environment Conservation Council's Marine Coastal and Estuarine Investigation (2000);
- the State Environment Protection Policy (Waters of Victoria) 2003 and associated Port Phillip Bay Environmental Management Plan 2002; and
- the relevant fishery management plans, including the Victorian Abalone Fishery Management Plan 2002.
The culture of finfish in the Reserves will not be permitted in the life of the Plan. At present adequate information on the environmental impacts and associated management of commercial finfish aquaculture in PPB is not available.
Culture of bivalve shellfish species and cage culture of abalone can be adequately managed within an ESD-based framework in the Reserves.
At present adequate information on the environmental impacts and associated management is not available for ranching of abalone. Abalone ranching in the Reserves will not be permitted in the life of this Plan.
Culture of other species may be permitted provided they meet the requirements of relevant legislation and policy, and can be adequately managed within an ESD-based framework.
Authorisations to conduct aquaculture activity
Three authorisations will be required to conduct aquaculture in the Reserves:
- Crown lease A Crown lease for marine aquaculture will be issued under the Land Act to a leaseholder and will provide exclusive occupancy right over a site for aquaculture purposes.
- Aquaculture licence An aquaculture licence will be issued under the Fisheries Act to a licence holder and will authorise an operator to conduct aquaculture activity in a specified area.
- 3. Coastal consent Consent will be issued under the Coastal Management Act and will authorise the use and development of the coastal Crown land.
Crown leases – entitlements, allocation, transfer and sub-leasing
Entitlements of a Crown lease for aquaculture will be consistent with the Victorian Aquaculture fisheries reserves - leasing and licensing policy.
It should be noted the Crown lease will provide exclusive occupancy rights for the purpose of conducting aquaculture activity, while the aquaculture activity will be authorised by an aquaculture licence. Transitional arrangements for existing aquaculture licence holders to Crown leases will be described in the above policy.
Crown leases within the Reserves will be allocated consistent with the Victorian Aquaculture fisheries reserves - leasing and licensing policy. Accordingly the Plan concerns management of those sites and associated aquaculture activity once allocated, rather than the specifics of the allocation mechanism.
The transfer, amalgamation, subdivision and subleasing of Crown leases within the Reserves will be consistent with the Victorian Aquaculture fisheries reserves - leasing and licensing policy.
Aquaculture licence – classification, renewal, transfer and variation
Aquaculture licences, issued under the Fisheries Act will provide authority to the licence holder to conduct aquaculture activity within the Reserves. An aquaculture licence specifying an area within the Reserves will only be issued, renewed or transferred consistent with the Victorian
Aquaculture fisheries reserves - leasing and licensing policy.
Cost recovery for management of the Reserves will occur through the implementation of levies on aquaculture licences. Existing legislation provides that levies may only be prescribed for a class of fishery licence. In order to comply with this legislation and facilitate cost recovery, Fisheries Victoria will develop classes of aquaculture licence that may authorise aquaculture activity within the Reserves. Of these, one will relate to the authority to harvest bivalve shellfish for human consumption and others will relate to the authority to culture aquaculture product for purposes other than the harvest of bivalve shellfish for human consumption.
In addition, general permits will be issued as required to conduct aquaculture activity for research and development purposes. Research and development under the provisions of a general permit may only be conducted within defined research and development sites within the Reserves. General permits will not be allocated for other sites within the Reserves.
The Government supports marine aquaculture initiatives subject to appropriate environmental management.
In their response to the ECC recommendations for marine aquaculture the Victorian Government indicated that:
"The purpose of a Management Plan is to specify policies and strategies to ensure the ecologically sustainable development of aquaculture zones. Accordingly the Management Plan will specify commitments to monitoring …."
The Government also endorsed the ECC recommendation that:
"NRE6 expand existing and introduce new research and monitoring programs for existing and new aquaculture operations to include the following:
- assessment of changes in benthic species composition and abundance beneath aquaculture farms;
- monitoring for introduced species, pathogens, diseases, nutrient enrichment (particularly when supplementary feeding is used) and other potential ecosystem effects on the surrounding environment;
- an assessment of recovery times following cessation of aquaculture activities in a site;
- participation by the proponent in, and contribution to the cost of these programs; and
- publicly available reports" (recommendation 43).
The Government indicated that:
"Such detail will be outlined in the Management Plans for aquaculture zones, which will be released for public comment. The Management Plan will also give consideration to the indicators mentioned above, amongst others, and specify the frequency of public reporting."
Environmental management framework for the Reserves
One of the key management actions identified for the Reserves is the development of an appropriately designed, comprehensive environmental management framework. This framework will be based on three key components:
- a characterisation survey;
- a baseline survey; and
- ongoing monitoring.
Fisheries Victoria has reviewed the methods for environmental surveying and monitoring of marine aquaculture in Victorian waters (Gavine and McKinnon 2002) (see Table 5 for summary), which provides the technical basis for implementation of the environmental management framework within the Reserves. This framework will provide information to enable management decision making, ensuring that the impact of aquaculture will be maintained at a level that is acceptable, local and reversible by natural processes.
1. Characterisation survey
A characterisation survey is a broad one-off assessment of the habitat, physico-chemical and biological attributes of an aquaculture fisheries reserve. To identify the key environmental attributes of the fisheries reserves and relevant reference sites for future monitoring, Fisheries Victoria has undertaken a characterisation survey of the DAFR, MMAFR and the BAFR (McKinnon et al. 2004). The results of these surveys are summarised in Appendices 5, 6 and 7. Prior to the review of the Plan, Fisheries Victoria will undertake environmental assessment of the appropriate reference sites to monitor impacts within and external to the Reserves.
2. Baseline survey
A one-off baseline survey is to be undertaken as soon as practicable after the Crown lease has been allocated and prior to commencing aquaculture activity. A baseline survey is an initial assessment of the sediment and seabed (see Table 5) specific to the Crown lease site. This survey will include predetermined compliance point(s)7 outside the sites (reference sites) for the purpose of future ongoing monitoring by the aquaculture licence holder. It will be the responsibility of the Crown lease holder to undertake and fund the baseline survey for each Crown lease site. Baseline surveys are not required to be performed for existing sites as they have been farmed for an extended period.
The requirements of the baseline surveys will be specified by the Secretary, DPI and prescribed as lease clauses. A written report on all baseline surveys is to be provided to Fisheries Victoria, by the date specified by the Secretary, DPI. The report will provide a summary of data collected, methods employed, analysis of the data, and recommendations and conclusions.
All original data, video footage and samples should be retained by the Crown lease holder for auditing purposes for a period of time as specified by the Secretary, DPI.
3. Ongoing monitoring
Ongoing monitoring is to be undertaken subsequent to the baseline surveys on an annual basis, or at intervals specified by the Secretary, DPI. Monitoring refers to ongoing assessment of the sediment and seabed (see Table 5) of the aquaculture licence sites. Ongoing monitoring will include assessment of relevant reference sites and provide sufficient information on the performance indicators to determine whether reference points are being achieved. Existing licence holders will be required to undertake ongoing monitoring, under licence conditions, within 12 months of the declaration of the Plan. It will be the responsibility of the licence holder to undertake and fund the ongoing monitoring.
The ongoing monitoring will be specified by the Secretary, DPI and prescribed as licence conditions. A written report on all ongoing monitoring is to be provided to Fisheries Victoria, by the date specified by the Secretary, DPI. The report will provide a summary of data collected, methods employed, analysis of the data, and recommendations and conclusions.
All original data, video footage and samples should be retained by the licence holder for auditing purposes for a period of time as specified by the Secretary, DPI. The Secretary will, in consultation with existing licence holders, develop an audit plan for the environmental monitoring framework and appoint an independent auditor.
Environmental survey and monitoring guidelines
Guidelines prepared by Fisheries Victoria in consultation with the DSE will prescribe detailed methods and standards for undertaking baseline surveys and on-going monitoring. These guidelines will include a description of the following key parameters: physico-chemical analysis of the sediment (particle/sediment grain size analysis, oxidation reduction potential, C:N ratios and natural stable isotope analysis), biological analysis of the sediment, seabed characteristics and habitat profile (habitat mapping, underwater video survey), and water column. All baseline surveys and on-going monitoring are to be conducted using the prescribed methods and in accordance with the prescribed standards unless otherwise authorised. The guidelines will also provide for reporting and auditing of all survey and monitoring results.
Fisheries Victoria will develop a data management system with geographical information system overlay capable of storing, analysing and reporting on all survey and monitoring data.
Table 5: Variables and methods for environmental surveys and monitoring (Source: modified from Gavine and McKinnon 2002).
|Monitoring requirements and triggers(b)|
|Attribute||Variable||Method||Baseline survey(a)||Active feeding||No active feeding|
|Hydrography||Currents||Model/in situ meter||✘||✘||✘|
|Sediment||Chemistry||ORP||Redox||✔||Annually||Beggiatoa sp. mats and or organic accumulation and or debris present beneath culture infrastructure, and or at compliance point on video transect.|
|C, N Stable isotopes||Mass spectrometry||✔|
|Physical||Particle size||Sediment core, PSA||✔|
|Visual||Sediment core, video||✔|
|Sea Bed||Habitat||Structural/ vegetation||Sounder/video||✔||✘||✘|
|Water Column||Key water quality variables||Temp/DO/Salinity profile||Standard methods||✘||Evidence of algal blooms, eutrophication||✘|
|Chlorophyll a||Standard methods||✘||✘|
✔ - required ✘- not required
- To be completed by the Crown lease holder
- To be completed by the aquaculture licence holder
Environmental standards for aquaculture activity within the Reserves are impacts that are acceptable, local and reversible by natural processes. In the event that the environmental standards are not met, appropriate remediation action will be undertaken.
Environmental performance indicators, management triggers and associated remediation actions for marine aquaculture activities are described in Table 6. Remediation of the site will be at the direction of the Secretary, DPI. The undertaking of remedial actions will be the responsibility of the aquaculture licence holder.
Fisheries Victoria will be responsible for evaluating whether performance indicators are meeting reference points, or if management triggers have been activated, and for determining the appropriate management responses.
Continual review of environmental monitoring information, combined with the ability to vary licence conditions relating to environmental monitoring, provides for adaptive management to reflect effective and efficient management response to changing conditions.
Public reporting on environmental monitoring undertaken within the Reserves is a primary component of public accountability for the management of the Reserves. Fisheries Victoria will publish all characterisation survey information. All baseline survey and ongoing monitoring information will be available to the public. Fisheries Victoria will provide annual summaries of this information.
The plan contains several economic objectives however data on the economics of the Victorian offshore marine aquaculture industry are limited. It is important to better understand the key economic factors and their impacts upon the viability and rate of growth of the marine aquaculture industry. An economic review of the current industry would provide important information in regard to the future management of the industry and determine the progress of the Plan against the economic objectives. The review should include relevant production information and the cost to industry of compliance with regulations. It is recommended that a review of the economics of marine aquaculture in Eastern Port Phillip Bay be undertaken during the life of the Plan. Fisheries Victoria, in consultation with the relevant industry and existing licence holders will determine the terms of reference for this review.
The Organisation Internationales Epizootiques (OIE) is the international organisation responsible for the International Aquatic Animal Health Code (OIE 2000). Australia is a member country of the OIE. Australia's responsibilities under the OIE for aquatic animal diseases are reflected in the Aquaplan Control Centre Manual (AFFA 2001), overseen by the Commonwealth Committee for Animal Emergency Diseases. Victoria's national aquatic animal disease reporting requirements and arrangements for the management and control of disease incidents are reflected in Victoria's Arrangements for the Management of Aquatic Animal Disease Emergencies 2003. Further it is a requirement under the Fisheries Act and the Livestock Disease Control Act 1984 that prescribed notifiable diseases are reported to the Secretary, DPI and the Chief Veterinary Officer, DPI respectively.
The degree of disease risk for marine aquaculture within the Reserves will vary with the choice of culture species and system, the standard of management, and the prevailing environmental conditions in and around the aquaculture sites. In relation to the farm management component, the prescribed procedures and protocols adopted by industry to avoid, mitigate and or treat disease incidents will be critical to ensuring that disease risks are (economically and environmentally) manageable.
All aquaculture licence holders within the Reserves must comply with the appropriate disease reporting requirements and management response initiatives.
The risk of disease transmission into the Reserves will be managed under the Guidelines for Assessing Translocations of Live Aquatic Organisms in Victoria 2003.
During the life of the Plan, Fisheries Victoria, in consultation with the Chief Veterinary Officer, DPI and industry will investigate whether an active cultured stock health surveillance program for the Reserves is warranted.
Translocation of live aquatic organisms poses an ecological risk through the potential transmission of diseases, potential impacts on biodiversity from changes in genetic integrity, and the establishment of feral and or exotic populations. The Victorian
Government has developed Guidelines for Assessing DPI. Interim translocation protocols including The Translocations of Live Aquatic Organisms in Victoria Revised Victorian Mussel Translocation Protocol For 2003 to meet its obligations under the National the Movement of Mussel Ropes and Equipment between Policy for the Translocation of Live Aquatic Organisms Port Phillip Bay to Western Port Bay 2004 are to be 1999. used when appropriate. Fisheries Victoria will develop further translocation protocols as Translocations will be conducted in accordance appropriate.
with the Guidelines for Assessing Translocations of Live Aquatic Organisms in Victoria 2003 and any associated protocols approved by the Secretary,
Table 6: Environmental performance indicators, management triggers and associated remediation actions for marine aquaculture activities (Source: modified from Gavine and McKinnon 2002).
|Performance indicator||Management triggers||Actions|
|Sediment scouring by cages||
Quality assurance programs
Victorian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program
The VSQAP is the Victorian implementation of the ASQAP, an internationally recognised program. The VSQAP is a quality assurance program protecting human health through the active monitoring of shellfish harvesting areas (fisheries reserves). Aquaculture fisheries reserves compliant with the ASQAP will be accredited for the harvest of product for export.
The VSQAP currently monitors the DAFR which is classified as a "Conditionally approved" harvesting area. Fisheries Victoria is currently seeking Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) accreditation for the DAFR for harvest for shellfish export. The VSQAP previously monitored the BAFR, however monitoring was ceased at this reserve as the reserve was classified as "Conditionally restricted" and did not meet the State Shellfish Control Agency's clean water policy. The VSQAP may be expanded to include the MMAFR and the BAFR, however any expansion will be subject to industry needs and cost recovery.
Proponents harvesting bivalve shellfish for human consumption must hold a relevant Aquaculture (Crown Land – Bivalve Shellfish) licence and contribute to the costs of the VSQAP. All bivalve shellfish harvested for human consumption must be compliant with the ASQAP.
Food safety plans
The Seafood Safety Act 2003 (the Seafood Safety Act) requires that all aquaculture licence holders producing product for human consumption hold a licence issued under that Act (administered by PrimeSafe). The Minister responsible for the Seafood Safety Act may declare that a class of seafood licence is to have a food safety program. Holders of those licences will have to prepare and implement food safety plans that specify the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points through supply-chain food safety requirements.
Limitations on active feeding of artificial feeds8
Bivalve shellfish are farmed using techniques reliant on natural productivity. Cage abalone aquaculture requires active feeding with natural macroalgae and or artificial feeds. Commercial culture of finfish will not be permitted in the Reserves for the life of the Plan.
Schedule F6 (Waters of Port Phillip Bay) of the State Environment Protection Policy (Waters of Victoria) (SEPP) requires a 1000 tonne net reduction in the annual net nitrogen load to PPB by 2006. The
Port Phillip Bay Environmental Management Plan 2003 (PPBEMP) has been prepared to help achieve the objectives of the SEPP. This plan includes strategies to achieve the net nitrogen reduction outlined by the SEPP. The Reserves will be developed in accordance with the SEPP and the requirements of the associated PPBEMP. Any aquaculture proposals that require active feeding of artificial feeds will therefore be required to comply with the SEPP, including the requirement for a net reduction in nutrient loads, and be consistent with the PPBEMP.
Commercial aquaculture activity requiring use of artificial feeds in the Reserves will only be considered if it can be demonstrated that such operations can meet the requirements of the SEPP and are consistent with the PPBEMP.
Research and development activities in relation to the use of artificial feeds in the Reserves will be permitted on the basis that it is designed to provide relevant, scientifically defensible information on the ecological sustainability of such activity. All research and development will be subject to the conditions prescribed in the 'Research and development' section of the Plan and conducted in consultation with the DSE and the EPA. Within this context, the potential application of nutrient offset9 mechanisms will be investigated.
A condition of all aquaculture licences is that the licence holder must complete an aquaculture production return. These data are provided to meet Fisheries Victoria's state, national and international reporting requirements. Production data are made available to the public by Fisheries Victoria in the Commercial Fish Production Bulletin for each financial year.
The public will be informed on the production from each aquaculture fisheries reserve within Eastern Port Phillip Bay. All production information for the Reserves will be reported to the public, including the species cultured, the
tonnage and value of product, and the employment created. The annual Commercial Fish Production Bulletin provides a mechanism for providing these data to the public. All information provided on production within the Reserves will be in a form that protects commercial confidentiality of individual licence holders providing this requirement does not prevent production reporting for the Reserves.
Fisheries Victoria, in consultation with the relevant industry representatives and existing licence holders, will determine the reporting requirements for financial performance indicators.
General public access
When considering general public access to the aquaculture fisheries reserves there are two types of areas to be considered:
- sites specified on Crown leases and or aquaculture licences; and
- areas within the Reserves that have not been specified on Crown leases and or aquaculture licences.
The Victorian Government response to the ECC (2000) recommendations provided that other users could access the fisheries reserve but not the Crown lease sites.
General public access will only be permitted to areas of the Reserves that are not leased or licensed. The external boundaries of the leased and or licensed sites will be marked in accordance with the provisions of the Marine Act 1988 (the Marine Act) to provide the appropriate indication to other users of restricted access sites. A communication strategy will be developed in consultation with relevant industry representatives, existing licence holders and VRFish to inform the public and industry of the entitlements of other users. The compliance strategy developed relating to the Reserves will address compliance with access restrictions.
To ensure that the profitability of aquaculture operations within the Reserves and human health and safety are not jeopardised by the activities of other users, the following management arrangements are recommended:
- Fisheries Victoria, in consultation with stakeholders, will implement where possible and enforce an appropriate speed limit for boating within the Reserves;
- the cleaning of fish will not be permitted in the Reserves;
- the use of berley will not be permitted within the Reserves and should not be permitted within 500 m of the Reserves;
- recreational fishing, diving and associated charter boats will be permitted to the edge of the Crown lease sites, but casting or drifting lines into and diving in the leased sites will not be permitted;
- commercial fishing will not be permitted within the Reserves; and
- the compliance strategy relating to the Reserves will recognise that the disposal of human sewage and other litter in PPB is illegal under the Environment Protection Act.
Survey and navigation marking
Providing Crown leases within the Reserves is an alienation of Crown land. It is therefore appropriate to ensure that all lease sites are accurately surveyed and marked to the appropriate standard.
Surveying of aquaculture sites must be of a standard considered appropriate for issuing of Crown leases. Standards of surveying for the granting of registered Crown leases are the responsibility of the Surveyor General Victoria and the Land Registry, Land Victoria, DSE. Licensed Surveyors will conduct the surveying. The DPI will provide guidelines for surveying of marine waters for the purposes of Crown leasing in conjunction with the Surveyor General Victoria.
Crown lease sites not allocated prior to the declaration of this Plan and within the Reserves are to be surveyed by the Crown lease holder at their expense prior to placing any commercial aquaculture equipment on the lease site.
Aquaculture licence sites allocated prior to the declaration of this Plan are to be surveyed by the licence holder at their expense prior to the issue of a Crown lease over the licence site.
To ensure the Crown lease sites are accurately marked, they will be regularly inspected by Fisheries Victoria and surveys will be requested if appropriate. A current aquaculture licence condition is:
"On the request of the Secretary, the aquaculture licence holder must provide a plan of survey of the aquaculture sites specified on this licence which
- is undertaken by a qualified surveyor or other person approved by the Secretary.
- is suitable for registering on a Crown lease.
- indicates the location of a licence holder's commercial aquaculture equipment in relation to boundaries of the aquaculture sites specified on this licence.
- is completed and forwarded to the Secretary within 120 days of such a request being made."
In regard to the accurate marking of site boundaries, this licence condition will be adapted as a standard Crown lease clause, and will be maintained as a licence condition for existing aquaculture licences until a Crown lease has been issued over the licence site.
The maintenance of aquaculture equipment within the Crown lease boundaries is the responsibility of the aquaculture licence holder. Local currents, wind and wave action can affect the location and alignment of aquaculture infrastructure. Fisheries Victoria will undertake regular monitoring and enforcement of the location of commercial aquaculture equipment. Any survey in relation to the location of aquaculture equipment on an aquaculture Crown lease requested by the Secretary, DPI for compliance purposes will be undertaken at the expense of the aquaculture licence holder. In addition any cost for relocation of equipment will be borne by the aquaculture licence holder.
Existing aquaculture within Eastern Port Phillip Bay is conducted in aquaculture zones within which 3 ha aquaculture sites were allocated. Currently aquaculture licence holders are required to mark each corner of each licensed site with a buoy bearing the licence holder's number. Deployment and maintenance of these buoys is the responsibility of the licence holders.
The external boundaries of the Reserves currently not marked will be marked by Fisheries Victoria in accordance with the requirements of the appropriate authorities under the Marine Act. To ensure all navigation marks are in the correct working order Fisheries Victoria will prepare and implement a program for the regular inspection and maintenance of all navigation marking of the external boundaries of the Reserves. Fisheries Victoria will implement a system to recover costs associated with the inspection and maintenance of navigation marking of the external boundaries of the Reserves from the aquaculture licence holders. The recovery of these costs should be levied on licence holders receiving benefits pro rata on the basis of area licensed.
Crown lease holders will be required to mark the external boundaries of the lease site with navigation marks in accordance with the requirements of the appropriate authorities under the Marine Act, and regularly inspect and maintain this navigation infrastructure, at their own expense. All greenfield aquaculture sites will be surveyed and marked appropriately before commercial aquaculture equipment is deployed. The external boundaries of all existing licensed sites will be required to be marked in accordance with the requirements of the appropriate authorities:
- within three months of the declaration of the Plan for developed sites; and
- prior to the deployment of aquaculture equipment for undeveloped sites.
Fisheries Victoria will communicate information regarding the type and location of navigation marks for the Reserves to other users.
The ECC (2000) recommended that management plans prepared for marine aquaculture fisheries reserves include "design, construction, maintenance and visual impact of structures" (recommendation 41). It is appropriate that the Plan considers conventions to reduce the visual impacts associated with aquaculture infrastructure within the Reserves.
The visual impacts discussed here are those associated with commercial aquaculture equipment only and not navigation marking infrastructure (as previously described). At present the marine aquaculture industry within Eastern Port Phillip Bay uses a variety of visible infrastructure (size, shape and colour) on licensed sites to support aquaculture equipment. In the Reserves the use of low-profile, dark-coloured buoys will reduce the visual impact of this infrastructure. All buoys (non-navigation marks) and other floating commercial aquaculture equipment within the Reserves will be grey to black in colour, or be any other colour that is specified by the Secretary, DPI. Commercial aquaculture equipment and support infrastructure in the Reserves must be low in profile (less than 1.5 m) and be of a uniform size and shape. Commercial aquaculture equipment and support infrastructure in the Reserves should be distinctive to the navigation marking of Crown lease sites and the Reserves.
Aquaculture infrastructure may detach creating a safety risk and litter the adjacent foreshore. The risk of detachment of buoys will be reduced by prescribing minimum standards for attachment of buoys to longlines in licence conditions. Maintenance of these standards will be addressed as part of the compliance strategy relating to the Reserves.
All floats and buoys associated with commercial aquaculture equipment and support infrastructure deployed within the Reserves must be marked to allow the identification of the relevant aquaculture licence holder.
All commercial aquaculture equipment deployed on greenfield sites and on aquaculture sites after the declaration of the Plan must be compliant with the above requirements.
It is proposed that all commercial aquaculture equipment deployed prior to the declaration of the Plan must be compliant with the above requirements in relation to visual amenity within five years of the declaration of the Plan.
Progress for transitional arrangements in relation to infrastructure requirements for the Reserves will be reviewed in three years at the same time as the review of the Plan.
All commercial aquaculture equipment deployed prior to the declaration of the Plan must be compliant with the above requirements in relation to identification and secure attachment of buoys within 12 months of the declaration of the Plan.
The presence of redundant and or dilapidated commercial aquaculture equipment or associated infrastructure also affects visual amenity and environmental values, and creates a safety hazard. The Reserves must be kept in a neat and tidy manner and an aquaculture licence condition will be developed requiring all redundant or dilapidated commercial aquaculture equipment to be removed from the licence site upon request of the Secretary, DPI.
The deployment of commercial aquaculture equipment and support infrastructure outside of the lease site creates a safety hazard to other users of the Reserves. All commercial aquaculture equipment, including all anchors and mooring lines, and other support infrastructure located within the Reserves must be located within a Crown lease site. For existing licence holders such infrastructure must be located within an aquaculture licence site.
The mooring of barges, boats and other structures within the Reserves for periods longer than five consecutive days will require written approval from Fisheries Victoria, DPI.
Noise and lighting
While technological advancements have improved the industry's productivity, reliance upon motorised equipment may increase the incidence of noise. In addition, night time activity may occur. At present, night time aquaculture activity is predominantly associated with harvest events to meet market deadlines and or to beat advancing weather. The noise and light resulting from these activities has the potential to negatively impact other marine users, coastal residents and the marine environment. Therefore, growers must be sensitive to this issue and take the appropriate steps to minimise any potential impacts.
International practice requires marine farmers to conduct all activities in a manner that is respectful of other marine users and the environment. This includes:
- restricting noise and light to harvesting activities, normal operational practices or maintenance of safety;
- ensuring all non-navigation lighting must be aimed, and of a brightness, so as not to cause unnecessary adverse affects on other users and the marine environment, and where possible should be shielded from all but essential directions;
- making every reasonable effort to minimise noise during regular farming activities, including ensuring well-maintained sound suppression devices (for example mufflers, barriers and baffles) are used while operating equipment; and
- making every reasonable effort to minimise light during night time operations.
It is a requirement of the Plan that the above issues be considered in the code of practice developed by industry for application within the Reserves. The role of environmental management plans in control of noise and lighting should be considered during the development of the industry code of practice within the life of the Plan.
The management of waste is an important environmental issue within the Reserves. As the maintenance of water quality is of paramount importance to aquaculture ventures, poor waste management will also impact adversely on aquaculture operations. Potential wastes at the Reserves include harvesting, cleaning, processing and mortality wastes; chemical and industrial waste; and sewage.
Under the Environment Protection Act discharges to the marine environment must be managed so that they do not adversely affect the receiving environment. The SEPP establishes ambient water quality objectives and waste water discharge limits (based on the Australian Guidelines for Water Quality Monitoring and Reporting-Summary 2000) to protect these waters.
Further, the Health Act 1958 (the Health Act) makes provisions for the prevention of conditions or activities that may be offensive or dangerous to the public, and the Food Act 1984 (the Food Act) requires the maintenance of prescribed food standards.
Harvesting, cleaning, processing and mortality wastes
Solid wastes from harvesting or cleaning (for example removal of biofouling) of all shell stock (including bait and spat) and from cleaning commercial aquaculture equipment (including ropes and buoys) must be disposed of in an appropriate manner. All declumping and cleaning of shell stock for human consumption must be in accordance with the requirements of the ASQAP. All declumping and cleaning of shell stock and commercial aquaculture equipment must occur either:
- within the licensed site; or
- at a designated area that is appropriately monitored in compliance with the ASQAP and or other environmental monitoring requirements; or
- onshore in appropriately designated areas subject to the provisions of local government, local water authorities and the EPA.
Solid wastes from post harvest processing of shellfish (for example shucking) must be disposed subject to the provisions of local government, local water authorities and the EPA.
In accordance with the Fisheries Act, abalone may only be processed at specified premises by the holder of a Fish Receivers (Abalone) Licence. As a result processing of abalone is not permitted within the Reserves.
Chemical and industrial wastes
Chemical use for marine bivalve aquaculture is limited to minor use of antifoulants. Any use of chemicals must be in accordance with the provisions of all relevant statutes, including the Environment Protection Act and associated subordinate legislation. All chemicals used must be approved for use in the marine environment and should only be used according to manufacturer's specifications.
Other chemical and industrial wastes in the Reserves may include cleaning products and petroleum by-products such as diesel oil, motor oil and petrol. It is a requirement that the risk of impacts from these chemicals and industrial wastes be dealt with by industry in accordance with the relevant code of practice and legislation. The role of environmental management plans in control of chemical and industrial wastes should be considered during the development of an industry code of practice within the life of the Plan.
Sewage contains a range of pathogenic microorganisms (including bacteria, viruses and protozoa) that pose a potential risk to the health of humans including bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Bivalve shellfish are particularly susceptible to effluent contamination. As a result the discharge of sewage into the marine environment in and adjacent to the Reserves would pose significant human health risks through the potential contamination of aquaculture product.
The disposal of human sewage at sea is illegal under the Environment Protection Act and the associated SEPP's.
Lease dimensions, orientation and stocking rate
Determination of the total area of the Reserves allocated to ongrowing of bivalve shellfish and the maximum culture substrate per area allocated is based primarily on the carrying capacity of the Reserves. Carrying capacity for commercial exploitation is defined as the quantity of standing stock (stocking rate) at which the annual production of a marketable crop is maximised. At a local scale, aquaculture stocking rates depend on constraints including substrate and oxygen availability, and food supply. For bivalves, the dominant factor determining the stocking rate is primary production (food supply). The stocking rate for bivalve shellfish is outlined below.
The maximum stocking rate at the Crown lease and reserve levels for species other than bivalve shellfish species may be specified prior to granting Crown leases within the Reserves for each species on a case by case basis if required.
Size, orientation and location of Crown lease/aquaculture licence sites
The size orientation and location of Crown leases must be determined in relation to the current status and proposed commercial uses of each aquaculture fisheries reserve. Size, location and orientation of Crown lease sites within greenfield areas of the Reserves will reflect economic viability, separation distances to maintain adequate water flow, buffer zones10 around the periphery of the Reserves, the direction of currents and access to lease sites.
Areas of the Reserves other than those allocated for bivalve shellfish aquaculture or set aside for access/separation/buffer zones may be used for the culture of other species that are actively fed and therefore not directly reliant on primary productivity (for example abalone). This use will be subject to approval of the Secretary, DPI following consultation (refer below) and development of the appropriate input controls for these uses on a case by case basis.
The DAFR comprises a previously allocated aquaculture zone and a 17 ha greenfield extension. The previously allocated aquaculture zone comprises a single 3 ha licence site (200 m by 150 m) orientated in a north-south direction. The greenfield extension within the DAFR must be designed such that it does not inappropriately impact on the allocated site within the existing area. The greenfield extension within the DAFR will be designed by Fisheries Victoria, following consultation with the FCC, relevant industry representatives and the existing licence holder within the DAFR.
The MMAFR is a 150 ha greenfield fisheries reserve. Fisheries Victoria, following consultation with the FCC and relevant industry representatives will determine the use, size, orientation and location of lease sites. Consideration may be given to providing a research and development site within the MMAFR.
The BAFR comprises a previously allocated 6 ha aquaculture zone (one licensed 3 ha site and a 3 ha general permit) and a 19 ha greenfield extension. The general permit will not be re-issued. The extension of the BAFR and the general permit site
are available for allocation. This area must be designed such that it does not inappropriately impact on the site authorised by the existing aquaculture licence. The BAFR will be designed by Fisheries Victoria, following consultation with the FCC, relevant industry representatives and the existing licence holder within the BAFR.
Management controls for bivalve shellfish
In the absence of scientific data on the carrying capacity for the Reserves it is appropriate that the precautionary principle is applied to carrying capacity controls. For the purposes of the Plan, relatively simple and efficient input controls will be used to determine the maximum stocking rates for the Reserves. These controls are:
- total area of leased sites allocated for bivalve shellfish aquaculture; and
- input controls related to length of longline.
The maximum sustainable carrying capacity of a reserve will be affected by the size and shape of the reserve. The total area of the BAFR and DAFR should be made available to bivalve shellfish farming due to the small size of these reserves. The total area of the MMAFR should be made available to bivalve shellfish farming as the shape and size of this reserve relative to the direction of the predominant currents is expected to permit adequate water flow to all of the MMAFR.
Ongrowing substrate for bivalve shellfish aquaculture may be controlled by prescribing a maximum length of longline backbone11 per hectare of lease site. A maximum of 0.5 km of longline backbone will be permitted per ha in the Reserves. This maximum will be prescribed as an aquaculture licence condition.
Rates of development
Implementation of the Reserves alienates a community resource for the exclusive use of the aquaculture industry. The Victorian community has an expectation that the resource will be used by the aquaculture industry in a manner that maximises return to the community. Return to the community is achieved in part by aquaculture development within the Reserves, output of commercially valuable aquaculture product, the creation of regional employment opportunities, and the provision of ancillary support services to the aquaculture industry.
The specification of a minimum rate of development as a regulatory management tool is a mechanism used to ensure that the community will benefit from regional development, wealth creation and employment opportunities associated with a sustainable aquaculture industry. In addition, specified minimum rates of development make inappropriate investment speculation less likely and will encourage positive, legitimate and active development within the Reserves.
Fisheries Victoria will ensure that minimum rate of development provisions are developed for aquaculture licences and Crown leases.
(a) Aquaculture licences
Aquaculture licence conditions prescribing minimum rates of development will be prepared for all existing and new aquaculture licences within the Reserves. The development rates will be customised by Fisheries Victoria in consultation with the relevant stakeholders on a case by case basis and with reference to their development plan recognising that similar growout systems should have similar development rates. Fisheries Victoria will ensure that provisions exist under the Fisheries Act to not renew licences when specified minimum development rates have not been met, subject to a 'show cause' provision. Where compelling reasons are offered in support of the renewal of a licence when minimum development rates have not been met, the licence may be renewed.
(b) Crown leases
Crown lease clauses will be developed to ensure that a Crown lease holder maintains a minimum rate of development on the Crown lease site. The Crown lease will stipulate a period of time within which minimum rates of development must first be met and a maximum total number of years in which development may be below the specified level.
Ownership of stock on the seafloor
There are two potential sources of stock on the sea floor within marine aquaculture Crown leases and aquaculture licence sites:
- stock that has originated from the aquaculture operation and has fallen to the seafloor. This stock may be attached to aquaculture infrastructure that has become detached, for example a mussel dropper, or may be the result of spat/stock detached from aquaculture infrastructure. This stock would be the same as the species authorised for culture.
- stock that has settled or migrated to the seafloor by natural processes without interference from the aquaculture operation. This stock may include species listed on the aquaculture licence and also other species. This stock on the seafloor may be considered as 'wild' stock.
Any stock on the seafloor within the aquaculture licence site that directly results from the aquaculture activities, or is the same species as that authorised for cultured, may be accessed by the aquaculture licence holder provided that it meets any appropriate health safety standards (for example the VSQAP) and licence conditions.
Stocking of the seafloor for commercial harvest will not be permitted within the Reserves within the life of this Plan.
Any stock that is not a species listed on the aquaculture licence will not be accessible to the licence holder.
Research and development
Research and development is a tool to provide information to address risk and uncertainty, and as such facilitates the overall risk management and adaptive management approach of the Plan.
The broad, strategic drivers for determining the research and development priorities for the Reserves include:
- the Victorian Government Response to the Final Report of the ECC Marine, Coastal and Estuarine Investigation (2000);
- relevant recommendations of the Federal Government's National Aquaculture Action Agenda 2002;
- all relevant research and development plans, including the Fisheries Co-Management Council Research Strategy, Research Needs and Priorities for Fisheries in Victoria 2001/02 2005/06 (FCC 2001); and
- needs of Crown lease holders and aquaculture licence holders within the Reserves.
The allocation of a research and development site within the MMAFR will be considered during the design of the layout of aquaculture area within the MMAFR, on the basis of strategic research and development needs within Port Phillip Bay. All such research and development will address agreed priorities, be coordinated, be collaborative (where appropriate), and at the discretion of the Secretary, DPI. Research and development in this site will be pursuant to section 140 of the Fisheries Act, that is research carried out by the Secretary.
Reporting requirements and intellectual property ownership and management for research and development activities will be specified in research agreements as deemed appropriate by the Secretary, DPI.
A research and development action plan for the Reserves will be developed within the first year of the Plan. The research and development plan will be reviewed and updated annually.
No general permits for research and development will be allocated for areas other than research and development site.
Public liability insurance and bonds
Public liability insurance requirements for Crown lease holders
The development of Crown land creates a possibility for injury/loss resulting from interactions with aquaculture infrastructure as a result of trespass. Holders of Crown leases and existing aquaculture licences (i.e. over non leased sites) within the Reserves will be required to obtain an appropriate public liability insurance policy covering the Crown lease/licence site, as specified by the Secretary, DPI. The insurance policy must:
- be kept current for the duration of the Crown lease;
- be relevant to aquaculture activities within the Crown lease site;
- provide minimum coverage to the value of A$10 million for each claim; and
- indemnify the State of Victoria, the Secretary DPI and their respective employees and agencies for personal injury, death and or property damage.
All Crown lease holders must provide evidence of a current insurance policy to the Secretary, DPI prior to deploying aquaculture equipment and annually thereafter. All existing licence holders must provide evidence of a current insurance policy to the Secretary, DPI within three months of the declaration of the Plan. All licence holders must provide evidence of a current insurance policy to the Secretary, DPI prior to licence renewal or upon request.
The State is not at risk for personal liability or for product quality/recall provided that the relevant quality assurance programs are in place (including the VSQAP) and managed correctly. Accordingly, holders of aquaculture licences within the Reserves will not be required to hold public liability insurance for product quality. However, it is suggested that the holders of aquaculture licences that are producing product for human consumption hold an appropriate level of public liability insurance for product quality.
Cost of removal of commercial aquaculture equipment
Section 60A of the Fisheries Act provides for the removal of commercial aquaculture equipment within a specified time at the cost of the licence holder or general permit holder if "a person's authorisation to conduct aquaculture activities under an aquaculture licence or a general permit ceases". Ultimately it is the responsibility of the Crown lease holder to ensure all commercial aquaculture equipment is removed from the site at the expiration of the Crown lease. However, if the Crown lease holder is no longer financially viable at the expiration of the Crown lease and there is no current aquaculture licence held over the Crown lease site, it would not be possible for the State to recover the cost of removal of commercial aquaculture equipment. The following options aim to balance the cost of removal, and risk of abandonment of commercial aquaculture equipment with cost-effectiveness for industry while ensuring the State can recover the cost for removal of commercial aquaculture equipment from an aquaculture Crown lease site. Two options are available:
- bond option – lessees contribute annually to an indemnity fund calculated in accordance with the nature of equipment to be removed and the hectares under leasehold. The fund will be administered by Fisheries Victoria and the Government of Victoria may draw upon the fund to cover cost of removal of commercial aquaculture equipment and the interest from which is returned to lessees; or
- bank guarantee option – lessees may establish an individual bank guarantee for the purposes of removal of commercial aquaculture equipment, calculated in accordance with the nature of equipment to be removed and the hectares under leasehold.
Both options will be designed to accurately reflect the costs of removing equipment, the risks of equipment abandonment relevant to the duration of the lease and, minimise the start-up cost of industry.
Fisheries Victoria in consultation with relevant industry representatives and existing licence holders will determine the agreed option for recovering the cost of removal of commercial aquaculture equipment.
Exotic marine organisms
At present there are breeding populations of exotic marine species within PPB which have the potential to colonise commercial aquaculture equipment within the Reserves. Management of these species is not the responsibility of the Plan.
The Reserves will be developed in accordance with the SEPP and the requirements of the associated PPBEMP.
To assist in the early detection and eradication of incursions of new marine pests in Victorian waters, it is important that where suspected such incursions are reported. Fisheries Victoria will develop an aquaculture licence condition requiring licence holders to report the presence of suspected exotic species on commercial aquaculture equipment.
In these cases the recommendations of the Interim Victorian Protocol for Managing Exotic Marine Organisms Incursions 1999 (or as updated) will be implemented by the DSE.
6 Note that NRE (Department of Natural Resources andEnvironment) is now the Department of Primary Industriesand the Department of Sustainability and Environment.
7 Compliance points are those specific locations within theCrown lease/aquaculture licence site at which survey dataand or samples will be measured/collected, typically along aspecific transect. Reference sites are effectively compliancepoints which are located outside the Crownlease/aquaculture licence site at a predetermined locationand designed to be used as 'controls' to clarify the extent ofenvironmental impacts attributable to aquaculture activitywithin the Crown lease/aquaculture licence site.
8 'Artificial feeds' includes pelleted formulated feeds,whole/trash fish and by-products used for aquaculture purposes.
9 Nutrient offset mechanisms may be established wherebythe addition of nutrients from one operation is offset by theremoval of nutrients by another operation.
10 Buffer zones when required will be designed to ensureimpacts attributable to aquaculture activity are containedwithin the reserve.
11 "Longline backbone" is the length of longline backbone(headline) that is available for the attachment of productionsubstrate. No differentiation will be made between the length of single and double backbone longline.
Implementation of the Management Plan
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Victorian Government response to the ENRC Inquiry into Fisheries Management - Second Report (2002)
Victorian Government response to the ENRC Inquiry into Utilisation of Victorian Native Flora and Fauna – Report (2000)
Victorian Government response to the Environment Conservation Council's Marine Coastal and Estuarine Investigation Final Recommendations (2000)
Department of Primary Industries http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/fishing-and-hunting/fisheries
Food and Agriculture Organisation http://www.fao.org/fishery/en