Petuna achieves BAP certification

Petuna has been awarded the Best Aquaculture Practice (BAP) certification, a sustainability standard which assesses every aspect of operations.

The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) assessed Petuna’s environmental responsibility, community relations, employee safety, food safety, animal health and its care of wildlife before determining that it reached BAP standards.

“Environmental and social responsibility are key to our business and will help us focus on improvements that make a real difference. The Best Aquaculture Practice Certification is a testament to all the hard work and dedication our team puts in across every aspect of the business,” said Mark Porter, CEO, Petuna Aquaculture.

“With only 15 per cent of aquaculture ventures worldwide receiving third party accreditation, we are extremely proud to have Petuna recognised for our sustainability work.”

Grown in the World Heritage listed Macquarie Harbour on the West Coast, Petuna Ocean Trout and Atlantic Salmon come from the remote South-west coast of Tasmania, where the cool wilderness waters of the Franklin-Gordon Rivers collide with the salt water of the Great Southern Ocean.

The unique currents of fresh water, mixed with the salt water from the Great Southern Ocean in Macquarie Harbour, mimic the natural environment where Salmon and Ocean Trout thrive and grow.


ACCC approves oyster spat levy

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has granted interim authorisation for Australian Seafood Industries (ASI) to collect a levy, in conjunction with hatcheries, on the purchase of Pacific oyster spat.

The levy will enable ASI to undertake research into developing spat with resistance to the Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS), which has a 90-100 per cent mortality rate in infected Pacific oysters.

The levy will be collected from oyster growers who purchase Pacific oyster spat from hatcheries and will commence at $2.80 per 1000 spat, indexed annually by CPI. ASI seeks authorisation to collect the levy for a period of up to ten years.

"An industry-wide levy is likely to be an efficient way to fund important research that seeks to protect Australian oyster growers from the potentially devastating impact of POMS," ACCC Commissioner Dr Jill Walker said.

“Interim authorisation allows ASI to introduce the levy and commence its research and development activities, while the ACCC considers the request for authorisation.”

Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.


Researchers urge Australians to consume sea urchins

Australians are being urged to consume more sea urchins, not only because they are plentiful in our native waters, but also for environmental reasons.

Researcher Philip Hayward from Southern Cross University says that sea urchins have been wreaking havoc on the nations reefs by consuming huge amounts of kelp which has subsequently impacted on lobster and abalone stocks.

Hayward says that the commercial harvesting of sea urchins may be a more environmentally and economically sound control strategy as current projects are not all that effective in reducing wild stocks.

“The funding that comes in for them is for short-term initiatives, but as soon as they leave, the stock will regrow. You really need an approach which sees people regularly [removing them],” he told ABC News.

John Keane from the University of Tasmania is studying the ecological effect of commercial fisheries, and says that early findings are positive.

"From our diving that we've been doing over the last few weeks, it looks like in some areas where there has been a fishery there is some regeneration happening, so yeah, the early signs are positive."

The majority of sea urchins produced in Australia are exported to Asia, with Hong Kong being the industry’s biggest customer.

Hayward says that although they are widely renowned as a delicacy overseas, Australians are relatively reticent when it comes to consuming sea urchins, and that we should embrace the notion of adding sea urchins to our diet.

"When they're fresh it almost deliquesces in your mouth, you feel it kind of fizzing and dissolving," he said.


WA fisheries to undergo MSC sustainable fisheries assessment

WA fisheries, Exmouth Gulf and Shark Bay prawns are the first businesses under the West Australian Government’s $14.5 million initiative to undergo a full assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable fisheries.

Minister for Agriculture and Food; Fisheries, Ken Baston says that the move is a win both for the environment and local industry.

“Department of Fisheries research shows that WA prawn fisheries operate sustainably and the independent certification against the MSC standard will give us the chance to tell the world not only how good the prawns from Exmouth and Shark Bay taste, but how well these wild-catch prawn stocks are being managed,” Baston said.

According to chairman of the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) Arno Verboon, the announcement marked an important milestone in the sustainable management of the State’s two biggest prawn fisheries which are collectively worth over $20million a year.

CEO of Shark Bay Prawns, Phil Bruce says that his company is proud to be part of the initiative.

“The Shark Bay Prawn Fishery, which operates in a world heritage precinct, has always worked in partnership with the Department of Fisheries to ensure the sustainability of our fishery.  MSC certification is not a simple green-wash tick, it’s a very rigorous, independent, scientific process and will assist us in telling the great story of the Shark Bay Wild prawn,” he said.

According to the MSC, over 300 fisheries worldwide are now engaged in the MSC program and over 22,000 products bear the MSC blue ecolabel, with 200 MSC labelled products are currently available in Australia.

To gain MSC certification, fisheries must undergo an independent audit to assess whether they reach the MSC’s international standard for a sustainable fishery which is based on three key principles; viability of target stock, impact on the marine ecosystem and management of the fishery.


Disease resistant oyster gives hope to producers

Eighteen months after enduring a crippling outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome, producers in the region are fighting to get back on their feet.

In January 2013, 20 percent of the local industry was affected by the outbreak, with the state government offering assistance to farmers, many of whom had their stocks for the year completely wiped out.

According to the Department of Primary Industries, the 2013 outbreak destroyed 10 million oysters, the equivalent of $6 million, and saw the number of producers in the Hawkesbury region drop from 15 to three.

Oyster farmer Bruce Alford told the ABC the Department of Primary Industries is working on a disease resistant Pacific oyster, due to be released in 2018.

A research team comprising veterinary virologist Paul Hick, Professor Richard Whittington and Alford is currently studying the disease and how it expresses itself.


Food manufacturers focus on sustainability: VIDEO


We detail three food and beverage manufacturers' efforts to go green.


Seafood industry calls for ‘country of origin’ labels

Nearly three-quarters of the seafood consumed by Australians is shipped from overseas, but most diners assume the seafood served in restaurants is locally sourced, the seafood industry said.

Research by the Australian Barramundi Farmers Association showed 60 percent of the 20,000 tonnes of barramundi eaten by Australians each year is from foreign fisheries, Good Food reports.

The heads of four major seafood bodies, including the National Seafood Industry Alliance, want seafood labelling laws to be extended to the restaurant industry, which is exempt.

Country of origin information should be published next to seafood dishes on menus so that consumers can be “protected from deception", they said.

“When people order barramundi, they just think it’s Australian,” said Scott Wiseman of the Seafood Industry Alliance. “There’s a requirement to know the fish species, but not whether it’s Australian. They have the right to make a full purchasing decision.”

Helen Jenkins of the Australian Prawn Farmers Association told the Federal parliamentary inquiry into country of origin labelling the Northern Territory had successfully applied labelling of origin laws to all its food sectors, including restaurants, in 2008. It remains the only jurisdiction to do so.

“It’s time for uniformity across Australia,” she said. "We'd like it to be legislated."

He said research of dining behaviour showed the country of origin of a product did not feature among the top factors that swayed purchasing decisions.

“We ranked a number of different factors, included origin, local produce, nutritional content. They were the eighth, ninth order issues. Primary order issue was the quality of product,” he said.

The seafood industry is the latest to be investigated by the inquiry, following the beekeeping and pork industry.


Tasmanian oyster farms hit by shellfish toxin

The discovery of a shellfish toxin on Tasmania’s east coast has resulted in two oyster growers halting production.

Health authorities have warned that shellfish from both the Great Oyster Bay area and Norfolk Bay in the state’s south have tested positive to a potentially fatal toxin, ABC News Reports.

Stuart Heggie state manager for environmental health at the Tasmanian Health Department said that none of the affected shellfish have been put out on the Tasmanian market, although two growers in the Great Oyster Bay area will be unable to harvest until the toxin levels drop.

The Seafood Industry council’s Neil Stump said that at present, the toxin is very localised and will impact on oyster growers namely in the Great Oyster Bay area.

"They have to cease production and can't sell any product so it will impact directly on them," Stump said.

"Other growers in the adjacent areas, where we've also detected the presence of this algae, are on a watch and alert at this stage."

In 2013 the Tasmanian oyster industry was hit by a number of contamination scares including an outbreak of Norovirus which resulted in sixty people falling sick after eating oysters from the state’s south, in addition to an algal bloom scare in the Great Oyster Bay area in 2012 also impacted on the region.


Craig Mostyn Group snaps up Jade Tiger Abalone

Australia’s largest abalone farm, Victorian based Jade Tiger Abalone has been sold to Western Australian food and agriculture based business, Craig Mostyn Group.

The purchase is said to be part of a $20m investment aimed at premium seafood markets in Asia and marks CMG’s first investment in aquaculture.

CMG successfully outbid a number of Chinese investors for the abalone farm which now sells over 95 percent of its product live to Japan, Hong Kong and China.

CMG’s CEO David Lock said that a sophisticated selective breeding program developed in conjunction with the CSIRO has seen productivity increase by 30 percent, and that the company plans to double its current output of 200,000 tonnes of abalone per year to 400,000 tonnes annually by 2017 with increased exports to China, Singapore and Hong Kong, The West Australian reports.

"Based on what we have seen, the science behind this abalone farm is far and away the best of any in Australia," Lock told the West Australian.

"Effectively, the business was a high-tech start-up that recently became commercially viable. It was the perfect time for us to step in and bring our expertise in marketing into Asia.

"We believe aquaculture offers great growth potential in Australia, specifically in the production of high-quality and high-value seafood."

The purchase of Jade Tiger Abalone adds to the company’s expanding seafood portfolio. The company spent $5 million late last year acquiring Tasmanian lobster businesses operating in Bicheno and Dover – which also happen to handle abalone – providing CMG with an introduction into the abalone industry.

"We started exporting live wild-caught abalone and understanding that business," Mr Lock said. "I haven't always been a proponent of the Asia food story being the saviour of Australian primary production but I am a strong believer in the niche market for the high-quality, high-value products that Asia wants and abalone is absolutely one of those."



Prawn industry can’t agree on what consumers want: USC Research

Research into the prawn industry has revealed limitations in the supply chain and areas for improvement in a bid to open new consumer markets.

David Byrom, of the University of the Sunshine Coast, has investigated the management of the supply chain for fresh prawns harvested from the Moreton Bay fishery.

“There is an abundance of beautiful, fresh seafood on the doorstep of Brisbane, particularly the Bay prawns, yet there are problems with supply and demand,” Byrom said.

“Seventy-two percent of seafood consumed in Australia is imported, so it’s not a pretty picture for local fishers,” he said.

He interviewed Moreton Bay fishers, wholesalers and retailers to explore three key supply chain links – product flow, information flow and relationships – and found issues in all three.

 “The biggest barrier I found was a lack of collaboration between the groups and within the groups.”

The research found widely varying perceptions about what consumers wanted.

“Some thought ‘fresh or frozen’ was a buyer’s biggest priority,” he said. “Some thought it was the quality or size of the prawn. Others thought that cost was everything.”

Byrom recommended further research to explore ways to improve supply chain management, such as through promotion, branding and species quality control, to ultimately make the industry more profitable.

His USC studies are part of an Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) national prawn research project. 


CSIRO develops world’s first fish-free prawn food

A team of scientists at Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO have developed the world’s first fish-free prawn food.

According to CSIRO researcher, Dr Nigel Preston, the product known as Novaq is set to solve one of the farmed prawn industry’s biggest problems – the reliance on wild fisheries as a core ingredient in prawn food.

"It is absolutely a critical issue for the global aquaculture industry. There's no more room to get more wild harvest fish, so we've got to find alternatives," Preston told ABC News.

"A justifiable criticism about aquaculture is the continuation of catching wild fish, grinding them up and feeding to farm fish," he said 

"It's the first really viable solution to not having to use wild harvest fish meal."

The formula of Novaq has not been released for intellectual property reasons, however it is said to be based on microscopic marine organisms.

In addition to the fish-free composition of the prawn food, scientists are also noting that prawns are growing up to 40 percent faster on a diet of Novaq.

"If you think of that in terrestrial terms, it's very rare to see," Preston told ABC News.

"If you've got a chicken growing 40 per cent faster you'd think something was wrong. It was a surprise.

"This is really a game-changer, there's nothing like this that I've seen in my career, and I may see nothing like this again."

Ridley, Australia’s only prawn food producer, currently holds the licence of Novaq and hopes to have it on the market by the end of 2015.


Technology advance to measure oyster freshness

The University of Tasmania and ConTag Systems (ConTag) have teamed up in the application of temperature measuring and recording technology for oyster farmers.

The technology is aimed at providing reassurances to oyster growers and eventually to consumers about the shelf life of oyster shipments.

The Oyster Refrigeration Index (ORI) has been teamed with a rugged time-based temperature sensor which is included in oyster shipment and stores temperature data over the entire transport phase to produce a prediction of oyster health and merchantability.

ORI developer Professor Mark Tamplin from the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture’s Food Safety Centre said one of the more common contamination risks to oysters is Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a natural bacterium found in seawater, the growth rate of which is sensitive to temperature.

The ORI will allow companies to predict how V. parahaemolyticus, if present, might increase in supply chains, particularly for products exported into markets that test for this bacterium.

“Until recently there has been insufficient information about how fast V. parahaemolyticus grows in Australian oyster species at different storage temperatures, but now the ORI has been field-tested with Pacific oysters and shown to make reliable predictions,” he said.

The Director of ConTag, Michael Jarvis, said that at the end of the transport phase, his company’s temperature data logger will be returned to Contag.

“When ConTag receives the tag, we use the temperature data to run the ORI model and can provide estimates of bacterial growth to the oyster growers within 24 hours,” he said.

”For now, the technology is principally providing operators with confidence that their produce is being shipped under the right conditions. However that’s just first generation. When we release our GPS-enabled version we will have the ability to analyse near real-time data, so that retailers can make evidence-based decisions about the oysters they are putting on their shelves.”


Progress for $10m Aquaculture Hub in Tasmania

Engineering consultancy pitt&sherry has secured key planning approvals for a $10 million Strahan Aquaculture Hub development in Macquarie Harbour on the west coast of Tasmania.

Predominantly based in Tasmania, salmon farming is a key growth area of the Australian economy, with the value of the industry increasing to $513 million in 2011/12, according to the Department of Agriculture’s Australian Fisheries Statistics 2012.

The report noted that since 2001/02, the value of farmed salmonids increased by 211 percent ($348 million), while production volume rose by more than 171 percent (to more than 27,000 tonnes).

A Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association’s (TSGA) development, the Strahan Aquaculture Hub will support further growth for the industry and feature wharves, administration buildings and associated infrastructure. It will also enable the industry to move from its current base in the Strahan town centre to what is currently a remote area in the vicinity of Buoy Point and Smith Cove to the west.

The construction of the Strahan Aquaculture Hub received a $7.14 million grant through the Regional Development Australia Fund and is expected to create around 100 new jobs during construction and more than 150 jobs following completion of the facility in late 2016.

Andrew Buckley, national leader – food & beverage at pitt&sherry, said “This is a substantial project for Tasmania and, more broadly, nationally – it will result in a doubling of production in Macquarie Harbour over five years to an estimated $269 million annual farm gate value.

“What is currently a remote area of Tasmania will be transformed into a thriving business district that is expected to improve economic conditions for the region in a sustainable manner.”

Pitt&sherry secured the planning and environmental approvals required to commence development, and completed the civil, infrastructure and marine design elements.

TSGA is Tasmania’s peak body representing Atlantic salmon and Ocean trout growers.


Mahi mahi and Australia’s first tuna steak to enter MSC certification program

International sustainable seafood certifier, The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) will be assessing mahi mahi and tuna steaks under its certification program, marking a world first, and Australian first respectively.  

Walker Seafoods Australia of the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery is seeking the MSC certification for its yellowfin tuna, albacore tuna, swordfish and mahi mahi.

“We’re very excited about entering the MSC certification program as we believe Australia leads the world in sustainable fishing," said Heidi Walker of Walker Seafoods. "Our boats will be the first in the southern hemisphere to undergo MSC assessment for yellowfin tuna and swordfish and the only company in the world to assess mahi mahi.”

In addition to Walker Seafoods, MG Kailis’ Exmouth Prawns will be the first fishery under the Western Australian Government’s $14.5m initiative to be assessed under MSC’s sustainability and environmental standard.

MSC country manager, Patrick Caleo said that the initiative will give commercial Western Australian fisheries the opportunity to be independently certified.

“…MG Kailis Exmouth Gulf Prawns (are) committing to go under assessment for MSC certification. This will take the number of Australian fisheries engaged in the MSC program to ten which include Australia’s two most commercially successful fisheries; Western Rock Lobster and Northern Prawns fishery,” Caleo.

There are now more than 300 fisheries worldwide that are engaged in the MSC program and over 22,000 products bearing the MSC blue ecolabel. In Australia more than 50% of the wild-caught prawns are MSC certified or under assessment.

“Demand for third-party verified sustainably caught seafood is growing and leading retailers and brands are responding. We have around 250 MSC labelled products on supermarket shelves in Australia,” said Caleo.


ALDI implements tracking initiative across canned tuna range

Discount supermarket ALDI has become the first retailer to implement a tuna tracking initiative across its entire canned tuna range.

As part of the supermarket’s mission to demonstrate best practice in sustainable fishing, consumers are now able to trace ALDI’s tinned tuna products right back through the supply chain to where the fish was initially caught.

Each canned tuna product will now display the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) catchment area printed on its lid. Each shipment is certified by the caption, and the local authority, providing peace of mind that the fish has been caught from an area under strict governance.

A spokesperson for ALDI said that the initiative is part of the supermarket’s ongoing efforts to maintain full transparency on the source, and high quality of its products.

“As one of Australia’s leading retailers, we take our corporate responsibility seriously. The communities in which we operate are central to our success, so we continually look for ways to ensure our products and services are making a positive contribution to the lives of our customers and their communities.”

In addition to the businesses’ canned tuna initiative, ALDI is also committed to working towards having all wild caught fish sourced through sustainable and equitable methods by 2016, including Pole & Line caught and Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) free methods.


Progress for WA’s first abalone farm

Despite concerns it could threaten wild abalone stocks, Western Australia’s first commercial abalone farm looks set to go-ahead, thanks to environment minister, Albert Jacob.

According to The West Australian, Jacob dismissed an appeal against a decision by the state’s environmental watchdog to not assess the Ocean Grown Abalone proposal.

The company has been running a 40ha pilot project in Flinders Bay, but wants to treble the area to make it commercially viable.

While Jacob noted that there were concerns about the biosecurity risk associated with the farm, he believes the Environmental Protection Authority’s original decision was justified and that the project can be adequately managed by the Department of Fisheries.

The Abalone Industry Association of WA, instigated the appeal on the grounds that Ocean Grown's plans could introduce disease into wild stocks and compromise the fishery's genetic diversity.

The Fisheries Department hasn’t yet granted Ocean Grown a lease for the expanded project.

Why don’t we believe Australia’s fisheries are sustainable?

Australians love seafood. We each consumed an average of 25 kilograms of seafood in 2010 – an amount that has increased significantly over the last 30 years. Worldwide, fish consumption now exceeds beef. Despite our love of fish, more than two-thirds of Australians think that our fisheries are unsustainable, a view that is strongly at odds with the scientific evidence.

Two current reports on Australia’s wild catch fisheries reveal stark differences in the way scientists and Australians view the sustainability of fish stocks. While scientists assess most stocks as sustainable, the community sees it differently. Less than one in three Australians perceive the wild catch commercial fishing industry as sustainable.

What we know

Last year, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation published an extensive assessment of the status of Australia’s commercial fish stocks. The report assessed 150 stocks of 49 species, which make up the bulk of the commercially significant fisheries (approximately 70% of the commercial wild catch by volume and 80% by value).

The report tells a positive picture: 98 stocks were classified as “sustainable”, 11 as “transitional”, 39 were “undefined” due to insufficient data, and just two – Southern Bluefin Tuna and School Shark – were assessed as overfished.

This isn’t a comprehensive survey. Some stocks could not be assessed because information was not adequate. The report doesn’t assess all commercial species, or consider sustainability of the broader marine environment. But it shows clearly that more than more than 90% of the total catch of the species considered is being fished sustainably. This is good news for consumers of wild caught Australian seafood.

What we think we know

But last week, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) released the results of a recent survey of community perceptions of the Australian fishing industry. The online survey of 1021 respondents shows that only 30% believe that the commercial wild catch fishing sector is sustainable.

Because of this gap between science and community perceptions, there is a real risk of limited community approval or acceptance of fisheries management.

In other words, Australia’s commercial fisheries lack a “social licence” to operate. This means that when controversy arises — as it did in conflict over the “super trawler” Margiris — Australians are unlikely to support these fisheries.

The 142-metre 10,000-tonne MV Margiris, the world’s second largest super trawler, arriving at Port Lincoln, South Australia, in August 2012. AAP Image/Nat Kilpatrick


Licensed to fish?

Why the gap? Other natural resource industries provide some valuable lessons.

First, the Australian fishing industry may be being defined by its past. Despite improvements in management and practises, poor past performance can contribute to today’s perceptions of an industry.

The survey released last week shows that 80% of the Australian public are unaware or unsure of changes put in place to improve fishing industry sustainability in recent decades.

Second, the community might be generalising perceptions about international fisheries to Australian fisheries. Imported seafood, mainly from Thailand, China, Vietnam and New Zealand, made up 72% of the seafood consumed in Australia in 2008/09.

Third, the public judge wild catch fisheries based on their knowledge of it. This knowledge rarely comes from people directly involved in the industry, and much more commonly comes from newspapers, radio and television. Media headlines grab public attention, yet the depth of information portrayed is often shallow and the opportunity to meaningfully learn from scientific reports is limited.

But it’s a two-way street. We need more accessible information on fisheries management, and science needs to address the issues that concern the community, if Australians are to make informed judgements.

What we think of bigger businesses

Compounding those problems is the lack of visibility of commercial fishers in many communities. Social licence is often built through personal interaction and trust, and an industry that lacks visibility has few opportunities to build this trust.

Thanks to efforts to improve economic efficiency and sustainability, Australia’s commercial wild catch fisheries now employ fewer people, and have shifted to larger, more corporate fishing businesses. Commercial fishing activity has also been reduced in near-shore areas used by recreational fishers. This has the unintended side effect of reducing the visibility of commercial fishing and the sense of familiarity for the general public. With less connection and less visibility, commercial wild catch fishers operate almost out of sight.

The shift to larger businesses and in some cases larger boats may itself reduce trust in wild catch fisheries. Multiple studies (based on energy, forestry and farming) have found that the public perceive activities more negatively if they are conducted by large businesses or on a large scale.

Fisheries policies —intended to improve productivity and encouraging economies of scale — may have the unintended consequence of reducing the acceptability of the industry.

The lack of a social licence to operate for Australia’s commercial fishing sector means fisheries can struggle to find community support when controversy arises.

But the latest FRDC survey suggests there is room for change. While only 30% of Australians believe our fisheries are sustainable, a further 37% sat on the fence. Better access to trusted information and increased familiarity with the fishing industry can help address this gap.

Peter O'Brien is a Director of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Jacki Schirmer and Lain Dare do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article. They also have no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Tassal receives conditional approval to build $11m fish factory

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted conditional approval for Tasmanian salmon company, Tassal to build and operate an $11m fish factory near Triabunna.

The factory which will process all the fish waste generated in Tasmania and turn it into fish oil, health products and fish feed, is expected to provide an employment boost in the area by generating 30 jobs during construction, and 20 jobs when the factory commences operations at the end of the year, The Mercury reports.

Mayor Bertrand Cadart of the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council said that he was ‘confident’ that the plans will gain full approval.

“We want this to be on the move as soon as possible, it is very important to Triabunna and Glamorgan Spring Bay,” said Cadart.

The EPA has imposed a number of conditions on the factory relating to odour and wastewater in response to concerns from local residents, coupled with any potential negative impact that the factory may have on the local tourism industry.

John Ramsey, chair of the EPA said that seven of the nine representations were in support of the development.

“The two public representations that were not supportive were about the potential odour impacts on tourists and residents and the proposed irrigation of the wastewater at the site,’’ Ramsay said.

“The Board has recommended site specific odour conditions to ensure the facility meets the requirements of the state Air Policy.”


Research aims to decode genome of the Sydney rock oyster

A new research project involving scientists from universities across Australia has been launched with the aim of ensuring the sustainability of the Sydney rock oyster and Australia’s east coast aquaculture industry.

The University of the Sunshine Coast together with scientists from Macquarie University, USC, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, have formed a consortium to sequence the entire genome of the oyster, Saccostrea glomerata – The commercial farming of which represents NSW largest aquaculture industry, producing approximately half of the edible oysters sold across the nation.

According to Macquarie University Professor in Marine Science, David Raftos, the research project marks one of the first times that the complete genome of a native Australian animal has been decoded.

Raftos says that the Sydney rock oysters, which can be found as far north as the Sunshine Coast, are crucial to the sustainability of estuaries and rivers along Australia’s east coast as they anchored the ecology of many coastal ecosystems.

“In often hostile environments, oyster beds provide refuges for a broad range of other species, and oysters are an important prey item for fish and crabs,” said Raftos.

“The ability of Sydney rock oysters to respond to environmental change will become increasingly important to the sustainability of Australia’s estuarine ecosystems, particularly on the highly urbanised eastern seaboard.”

Abigail Elizur, USC Professor in Aquaculture Biotechnology said that the project aims to build knowledge about the ecologically and economically vital oyster.

“By sequencing its complete genome, we will develop a vast genetic resource that can be used to test crucial questions such as the ability of oysters to respond to environmental stress, as well as understand its reproductive cues and requirements,” she said.

“It will also help us with the discovery of genes controlling beneficial traits, such as resilience to environmental contamination and disease resistance.”

Principal Research Scientist at the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wayne O’Connor said that the team expects the sequencing to take around a year to complete, and from there they will be able to assess how the research can be applied practically.


Coles opens three new ‘foodie destination’ stores in Sydney

Three new Coles outlets, opened on 4 December, will include freshly-prepared takeaway meal options, Lavazza coffee and dedicated Coles Simply Healthy Living sections.

The new supermarkets, which cost Coles more than $15 million, are located in Bondi Westfields, Broadway and Balgowlah and are expected to create more than 200 jobs.

The openings incorporate insights gathered from a trial store set up in Southland, Victoria, and represent a new phase in Coles’ store renewal plan.

As well as over 1,800 new products available across the three locations, each of the new-look stores features a Coles Kitchen, selling freshly prepared take-away options such as sandwiches and baguettes, as well as sushi and hot and cold oven-baked pizzas and pies.

Customers will also be able to purchase Lavazza coffee from the new-look Coles bakery, which will offer an expanded range of artisan breads, as well as cakes and pastries sourced from Marrickville’s Manna from Heaven bakery and sold at the new Coles patisserie. Coles Broadway will also have a fresh juice bar.

Other additions include a new continental delicatessen with a floor-to-ceiling glass cheese wall, and a range of fresh pastas, specialty cheeses and cured meats, as well as an upgraded fish counter and a fresh meat department complete with a dry-ageing cabinet and a marinating and crumbing service for customers.

The fruit and vege will be displayed in a ‘market style fresh produce’ section, with produce kept on ice, as well as a new loose nut unit for nuts and dried fruits.

There will also be dedicated Coles Simply Healthy Living sections in the new stores, offering a range of ‘Free From’ and ‘Coles Simply’ products, all located in the one place.

Simon McDowell, Coles marketing and store development director, said the new store layouts are all about creating an outstanding experience for consumers every time they shop.

And the changes go beyond the products of offer, he added.

“These stores are also innovative beyond just what they sell, with a comprehensive sustainability plan to operate smarter, ‘greener’ stores. All three stores incorporate back-of-house and customer recycling programs, food rescue partnerships with SecondBite and the Salvation Army. Through energy efficiencies including LED lighting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we are taking responsibility and playing our part to Help Australia Grow.”