Ocean Grown Abalone venture hatched

Photo: Supplied.
Photo: Supplied.

Less than a week after the Esperance Shire Council gave the project in-principle support, Ocean Grown Abalone has begun community consultation over a proposed hatchery at Wylie Bay.

The shire have already begun seeking community feedback to lease 34 hectares of land about 10 kilometres from the town centre for the proposed land-based development following the council decision on February 26.

Subject to the feedback, the company are expected to enter a 12-month lease to carry out a feasibility study to assess the land's development potential.

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Ocean Grown Abalone Managing director Brad Adams said the company would look to complete the feasibility study by the end of 2019 and commence construction as early as 2021.

During the consultation session on Wednesday evening, March 6, Mr Adams told local residents and stakeholders that the proposed 250 tonne facility would provide up to 40 full-time local jobs and utilise local services for about 80 per cent of the construction work.

“The demand [for abalone], particularly in South East Asia, continues to grow," he said.

“They’re looking for high-quality seafood products and, in Australia, we’re in a unique position to offer them that because of our pristine waters and our health, food and safety laws which assure the customer we’re producing quality product.

“There are few locations in Australia that meet the criteria for such a business.

"We’ve had a good look around and we believe that Lot 50 Wylie Bay fits that criteria and presents a unique opportunity.

"The fact that there are 34 hectares there means we could actually expand this business in the future.

"It’s certainly exciting growth potential as well and we'll need locals to run this business.

“These things need a lot of labour to run them and there is access to those third parties - the concreters, builders, plumbers and engineering services that are required both to build the facility and continue operating and maintaining it."

Mr Adams said the company had been exploring opportunities and locations across WA for the development and, with water temperatures between 14°C and 21°C and of quality "second to none", the opportunity provided a natural fit.

Those at the consultation asked a series of questions regarding the impact of the development on the environment and existing beach access as well as its proximity to the existing Wylie Bay Tip site.

As the pipelines would be buried below the tide mark and the sand dunes, Mr Adams said normal beach access would be maintained from both sides and only disrupted for a period of three to four weeks during positioning.

Mr Adams said the tip would have no bearing on the operation and also stressed that abalone farms were considered very low-impact, with no harmful chemicals discharged and a commitment to preserving the water quality that they, too, rely upon.

The company will now seek support from both local government and the community to continue assessing the opportunity.

In accordance with the Local Government Act, the shire have advertised their intention to dispose of the land to enter a lease of one year and a further one year term including an option to purchase.

Those who wish to make a submission in relation to the matter can do so before March 15 by contacting chief executive officer Matthew Scott on 9071 0666 or email ceo@esperance.wa.gov.au