Researchers at IMAS and the School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences have recently completed a research project developing a decision-support tool to aid spatial planning for finfish aquaculture in Tasmania. This project was a collaboration with the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (now Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania) under the Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration Agreement.
The Statewide Finfish Aquaculture Spatial Planning Exercise used a spatial decision-support tool to help decision-makers better understand future growth opportunities of the Tasmanian finfish aquaculture industry. This statewide assessment was adapted from an approach previously developed as part of a pilot study in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel (southeast Tasmania): ‘Pilot Marine Spatial Assessment Tool’ (Ross et al., 2020).
The first stage of the project assessed the biophysical suitability of the environment to host finfish aquaculture in Tasmanian waters to identify areas unlikely to be considered for development based on biophysical characteristics alone. The second stage used outcomes of the first stage in two local areas – the southeast and north coast of Tasmania – and incorporated other marine users and values to conduct an optimization analysis using the software Marxan with Zones. This was meant to understand where conflict in these areas may arise between the spatial needs of finfish aquaculture and other marine users.
It was found that most opportunities for finfish aquaculture derived from this assessment reside offshore in deep waters off Tasmania. This is because, in this assessment biophysical suitability for finfish aquaculture was relatively higher in this environment, pending available infrastructure and cost-effective operations, and few conflicts with other marine users and values have been so far identified offshore.
While the project is an important step towards better understanding the potential for finfish aquaculture expansion in Tasmania, it is important to note that it does not replace the need for any future finfish aquaculture expansion applications to follow the Tasmanian marine planning process underpinned by the Marine Farming Planning Act 1995. For more information on the planning process please visit the website of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (now the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania) at www.nre.tas.gov.au.
And for more information on spatial planning for aquaculture, you can visit our research insights page on this website.