New Kangaroo Island wharf doesn’t wash: abalone farmer

Published on Australian Financial Review 15 January 2017 – Click here to view the original article.

Yumbah Aquaculture says its abalone production on Kangaroo Island will be hit if a nearby wharf is built. Nab Agribusiness

A battle is brewing between the ASX-listed Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers and the country’s largest abalone farmer Yumbah Aquaculture over a proposed wharf required for the transportation of major timber supplies from Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers (KPT) successfully closed the institutional component of an equity raising late last year which will be used to help fund the purchase of a timber plantation from New Forests for $55 million and the development of the new export facility.

However, KPT has run into stiff opposition from Yumbah Aquaculture whose director Anthony Hall said a new wharf would hamper the company’s abalone production.

“We know how sensitive the abalone operation is but some people don’t understand the water quality required for such an operation,” Mr Hall said.

Yumbah Aquaculture is a major supplier of abalone. Nab Agribusiness

“We go to these remote and pristine areas so we can have a perfect place to do our aquaculture.”

The general manager of Yumbah’s Kangaroo Island Abalone company David Connell said there was “no possibility” that the wharf and Kangaroo Island Abalone could co-exist.

“If the development kills the abalone, it will kill our world-class business,” Mr Connell said.

“If the dust clouds from building a 10-hectare hardpan industrial site next to the abalone farm don’t kill the abalones, then the silt and sedimentation from dredging 57,100 cubic metres of Smith Bay seafloor or 51,810 cubic metres of fill being dumped next to our seawater intake pipes certainly will,” he said.

KPT’s managing director John Sergeant refutes the assertions but did not want to comment further about the project which he says would not affect the abalone farm.

Abalone farming is sensitive to water purity. Nab Agribusiness

The company has made several statements, including that it had sought a ministerial declaration that the wharf proposal should be treated as a major project with state significance and that the anticipated costs of gaining approval were within the allowance made in KPT’s recent capital raising.

Last month the Commonwealth government deemed the wharf proposal a controlled action under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999. Again, the company has stated that it did not think this would affect costs of gaining approval for the wharf.

“The Company considers that the Commonwealth’s decision is unlikely to have any significant effect on either the duration, cost or outcome of the development assessment process.”

The abalone farm’s Mr Connell said he agreed that business on Kangaroo Island would benefit from having a deep sea wharf, but not at Smith Bay.

“And not at the cost of investors walking away from aquaculture as a long-term, fast-growing present and future employer and contributor to the KI economy,” Mr Connell said.

Yumbah’s Mr Hall said the approval processes were thorough and that “we have respect for the processes”.

“But we don’t want to have to go through an enormous expense educating people as to why this wharf can’t work.”