Salmon. Petuna Aquaculture has assured commercial north west fishermen the company will listen and respond to any concerns regarding their traditional fishing grounds should it decide to go ahead with plans to farm salmon in the area.
The company also made it clear that any decision to develop a salmon farm in the region was dependent on Petuna being able to work with the local community.
Acting chief executive officer David Wood said Petuna understood the importance of working to ensure any new development had a social licence to operate for the full life cycle of the project.
“Fundamental to achieving this, is developing trusting relationships based on mutual benefit, mutual respect and ongoing open and transparent engagement at the community level.”
Mr Wood and Petuna environment and sustainability general manager, Di Maynard, met recently with commercial and recreational fishers, as well as members of the Circular Head community, to mark the start of a comprehensive consultative program that will go on for some months.
At the same time Petuna will conduct environmental and scientific testing to determine the suitability of the far north west for farming salmon.
“Both exercises must produce positive responses for us to proceed,” Mr Wood said.
“One is just as important as the other. They are conditional to any future development plan.”
Petuna has been granted a permit to undertake environmental monitoring of off-shore areas in the region, as part of preliminary planning work to consider the potential for salmon farming.
Mr Wood said the company would soon be asking local commercial and recreational fishers to identify those areas they considered critical to the sustainability of their traditional fishing grounds as a basis for refining the selection of potential lease space.
In cautioning against misinformation about the project, Mr Wood urged those wanting information to contact the company direct. He said Petuna was developing a dedicated website which would provide a communication platform between the company and the community.
Petuna will also establish a Community Reference Group and invite members of the local community to participate.
Whilst there is a long time and a lot of work to be completed, ultimately a Petuna expansion into the far north west would deliver a multi-million dollar investment program and employment opportunities to the Circular Head region.