The Esperance Shire Council have given in principle support to a commercial agreement with Ocean Grown Abalone that could see the sale of 34 hectares in Wylie Bay for an onshore abalone hatchery development.
In a statement released on Wednesday, February 27, the company said they had been exploring opportunities and locations across WA for the development and identified the parcel of land about 10 kilometres from the Esperance town centre.
According to the company, Lot 50 Wylie Bay Road appears to have the necessary attributes for the development to proceed.
Council made the decision behind closed doors during the Ordinary Council Meeting on Tuesday evening, February 26, with councillor Steve McMullen moving the motion and councillor Lara McIntyre seconding.
The motion was carried 6-1, with councillor Shelley Payne voting against.
As part of the proposal, the shire are expected to engage in consultation with the Esperance community before March 15, 2019.
Subject to community feedback and endorsement by council, the company are expected to lease the land for a period of 12 months to carry out a feasibility study and assess the land's development potential.
The sale of the land will be dependent on the company developing an onshore aquaculture hatchery and grow out facility and will be subject to the necessary approvals.
Documentation is expected to be completed by May 1, 2019, when the company expect to make a decision on whether or not the development will go ahead.
Deputy shire president Natalie Bowman welcomed the announcement and said the project was an exciting one for the Esperance community and the local economy.
"We often talk about economic development and how we need to get jobs and here we have one that’s come knocking on our door," she said.
"We’ve been able to secure a parcel of land that the shire have under their control that we have been able to reach an agreement with them.
"Obviously, this still needs to go through the public process with a two-week public notice where we’ll gather feedback from the community.
"Then, as a council, we’ll have a look at that and either proceed or otherwise.
"It’s a very exciting development for this community.
"It’s a new industry and one that has huge potential.
"I understand Ocean Grown Abalone will be here in the near future to host an information session for the community to discuss what the project would look like and what benefits it could bring to the Esperance community.
"Council have always been committed to local development and we’ve got an opportunity here.
"It was about making sure we get through this process as quickly and as openly as we can to allow Ocean Grown to begin their project."
The Company was first incorporated in early 2011 and currently has two 5,000 abitat ranches in Augusta as well as seven research leases for its Port Lincoln Development Project in South Australia.
Ocean Grown Abalone Managing director Brad Adams said the opportunity provided a natural fit with the company's existing ocean ranching operations.
“We are always looking for ways to increase productivity and business efficiencies," Mr Adams said.
"An Ocean Grown abalone hatchery and grow out facility will enable the company more control over the selection of juvenile abalone for seeding on the sea ranches and it’ll provide the ability to expand marketing opportunities and product lines.”
In voting against the motion, councillor Shelley Payne said that she felt their should have been public consultation prior to the agreement.
"I am definitely not opposed to the industry," she said.
"I just felt that there should have been consultation with the public given some current accesses to the Wylie Bay Beach would be affected by the sale of this land
"Also, Council had not done any planning with regards to the siting of industry in this area.
"I felt the decision was very quick and ad hoc without enough thought to long-term planning for this highly recreated part of our coastline."