Our Latest Proposal

Yumbah Nyamat

Yumbah Nyamat is the latest exciting development proposal for Yumbah Aquaculture.

Yumbah Aquaculture Limited is proposing to build a new $60 million abalone farm on the flat farmland at Lots 1 & 8 315 Dutton Way, Bolwarra, close to Portland.

Additionally, a new $10 million seafood processing facility and a new $3 million abalone-feed production plant would be established in a nearby Portland industrial estate, to support Yumbah Nyamat.

Should this exciting proposal proceed as planned, it would see the construction of a 1,000-tonne abalone farm and the creation of 330 jobs – 170 temporary construction jobs and 160 permanent post-construction roles in; management, biology, farm labour, maintenance and food science – for Glenelg Shire.

This project has been designed to complement our existing farm – Yumbah Narrawong – which has successfully operated within the local community for almost 20 years.

As well as doubling Australia’s total farmed abalone output, Yumbah Nyamat would generate more than $50 million annually for the local Portland economy.

Subject to strict environment and planning approvals and the raising of funds, it is anticipated construction of Yumbah Nyamat would start on our 45.9-hectare Dutton Way site in early 2019 and finish by mid-2023.

This low-lying site is protected by an existing rock wall and is ideally suited to “pump-ashore” aquaculture. It is one of only a handful of available locations across the country which meets these requirements.

Yumbah’s recent $5 million investment in its Narrawong farm expanded the site to its maximum size given local and neighbouring land and seabed topography. The project established a network of local suppliers, service providers and construction companies which it intends to draw on should the project proceed.

Below are answers to frequently asked questions about the new proposal. If you don’t find an answer here, please feel free to contact us using the email link below, or phone 0437 144 416

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many local jobs are expected to be created?

Should it proceed as planned, Yumbah Nyamat would generate 330 jobs for the local Portland area - 170 temporary construction jobs and 160 full-time, post-construction positions.

The development would have a strong focus on youth and would provide a significant boost for Portland youth employment. Yumbah has an established track record as an inclusive employer with a local focus and is working towards establishing meaningful education opportunities for staff.

2. Why does Yumbah need to build a new farm?
  • With an annual gross value estimated at $160 million, most of Australia’s abalone supply is wild caught and sourced from Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria. However, 90 per cent of Australia’s wild abalone stocks are now classified as being in transitional depletion or overfished.
  • Yumbah grows both greenlip abalone and a naturally occurring hybrid of greenlip and blacklip abalone (“Tiger” Abalone). Both are iconic abalone species unique to Australia.
  • While other breeds of abalone are farmed overseas, the unique character of our indigenous abalone, coupled with Australia’s clean, green reputation, form a defence against low price substitution by inferior species.
  • Demand for this luxury product continues to be driven by the burgeoning new wealth of the Chinese and Asian middle classes. In addition, increasingly sophisticated local and North American markets are growing rapidly. Put simply, the demand far outstrips supply and there is limited availability of wild product or capacity to develop new wild fisheries to meet the demand. The only solution is to farm more Australian abalone.
  • The Yumbah Nyamat project is designed to help Yumbah Aquaculture increase its production levels and grow its business. The project would be a huge boost to the local Portland economy and would create new and exciting employment opportunities for existing and future staff.
3. Why has Yumbah chosen this location for an abalone farm?

This low-lying site is protected by an existing rock wall and, as such, is ideally suited to “pump-ashore” aquaculture. It is one of only a handful of available locations across the country which meet these requirements.

Using this land for aquaculture aligns with and is supported by the following State policy documents encouraging land-based aquaculture in south-west Victoria:
Planning Guidelines for Land Based Aquaculture in Victoria 2005 (Department of Primary Industries)
Victorian Aquaculture Strategy 2017-2022 (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
South West Regional Coastal Action Plan 2002 (Western Coastal Board)

4. Why couldn't you expand on the current Yumbah Narrawong site?

Our current Narrawong farm is at full capacity. There remains a small area of land undeveloped, but a number of engineering issues prevent its use primarily due to the fact that it’s lower than sea level.

There is also considerable cultural sensitivity on the land to the west of the existing Narrawong site.

5. What would this mean for staff at Yumbah Narrawong? Would the farm continue to operate as usual?

Yes, Yumbah Narrawong would continue to operate as usual. Should the development of Yumbah Nyamat proceed, it would be an exciting opportunity for the Narrawong team, as many of our existing staff would be promoted to Yumbah Nyamat to help establish the new operation.

6. What would the farm look like to neighbouring properties?

The majority of the Yumbah Nyamat site consists of flat farm land which is currently partially visible through screening vegetation along Dutton Way. The flatland, which was a historic lagoon, then rises quickly to an elevated plateau accessible from the Princes Highway, complete with views of Portland Bay.

The buildings and structures used in abalone farming are low level, single-storey, agricultural style shade cloth and hothouse enclosures. Amenities offices and ancillary buildings would be architecturally designed to complement the setting. Buildings would be constructed on the flat farm land and screening vegetation planted would largely obscure the farm from the vision of road travellers.
Due to the topography of the site, the elevated views above the farm would look directly over the top of farm. However, site lines to Portland Bay would be unobscured. Properties to the south would not face the site and would be well screened.

The development would be professionally landscaped and include a detailed landscape design with indigenous planting along the boundary that would help screen the farm from neighbouring properties.

7. Why is the shade cloth over the grow out tanks black?

Black shade cloth has been selected as a recessive colour that will minimise glare and allow the ocean to remain the dominant focus of views across the landscape. It is not intended to camouflage the building, but rather to help it recede in the landscape.
Green has been suggested as an alternative colour, however this will not effectively camouflage the building as the artificial tone of green shade cloth does not match the natural shades of olive green and brown that occur in the surrounding landscape.

Landscape colours aren’t constant and will change throughout the seasons, so it is impossible to choose a colour that will “match” year-round. The building will be screened by plantations of indigenous coastal vegetation, so it is important the colour of the cloth does not compete with the subtle greens of these plants. Using black shade cloth is the best way to make the view of the building recede behind these plantations.

8. What effect would the discharge abalone farm water have on the receiving waters of Portland's north shore?

Yumbah utilises seawater, which flows over the tanks and delivers life-sustaining oxygen to the abalone before going through a filtration/settlement process to remove suspended organics and returning to the ocean.

The discharge water from the farm is only slightly changed by the farm and will not harm the environment. In fact, the discharge water could be used to grow abalone and other marine animals.

The discharge water returned to the ocean from the farm is:

  • Not harmful to animals
  • It doesn’t contain suspended solids loads which could threaten nearby reefs or the ocean bed
  • Low in nutrient and will not cause excessive weed or algae growth in the receiving environment (eutrophication)
  • Free of farm-generated waste
  • Safe for swimming
  • Safe for recreational fishing
  • Odourless
9. Would the farm emit any odour?

Odour emissions from abalone farms are tightly regulated by the EPA.

Aquaculture farming does not typically generate offensive odour. No processing of abalone would take place at the new farm.

10. Would the farm generate any noise?

Noise emissions from abalone farms are tightly regulated by the EPA and an extensive noise emission management report has been prepared by an independent consultant.

The main sources of noise would be the pumping and aeration stations. These facilities would be housed in sound-insulated bunkers.

11. Would the farm impact fishing?

Fishing in the area is unlikely to be affected by this project. Any fish caught in the receiving environment are safe to eat as evidenced by the continuing popularity of fishing spot Snapper Point directly in front of Yumbah Narrawong.

12. How does Yumbah's farming activities affect wild abalone?

Responsible aquaculture is caring for the environment by reducing harvest pressure on wild fish stocks.

As with so many of the ocean’s fish species, wild abalone has been exploited to near extinction in many countries across the globe. Yumbah reduces this pressure by breeding from internal farm brood stock to produce juvenile abalone which are grown to market size using a controlled but natural production system.

Yumbah’s interests extend to supporting the wild population of abalone by participating in research trials aiming to restock the depleted wild resource, using our hatchery-reared stock.

13. Are there any disease risks?

Biosecurity on abalone farms is tightly regulated by Aquatic Animal Health/Biosecurity, Department of Agriculture.

Biosecurity is critical for the health of abalone and Yumbah has strict procedures and reporting in place to prevent the outbreak of diseases at our farms.

In 30 years there has only ever been one notifiable disease that has impacted on abalone farms in Australia. This disease Abalone herpesvirus (AbHV) is an endemic abalone disease that is present in wild abalone. In 2006 Yumbah Narrawong’s stock contracted AbHV from wild abalone brood stock that were introduced to the site. The farm was subsequently de-stocked and disinfected prior to re-stocking. There is no reported evidence of any escape of disease from the Narrawong farm to Portland Bay. The introduction of wild abalone is now prohibited on all of Yumbah’s commercial abalone farms.

14. Does the expansion make Yumbah Nyamat susceptible to diseases?

While the overall size of the farm is more than three times larger than Yumbah’s biggest farm, the stocking densities remain the same and the water only flows over each tank once, which reduces disease risk associated with intensification. In Yumbah’s tanks, the maximum density a tank will ever reach is less than 20kg per square metre and the average density across the farm is between 8kg and 10kg per square metre. By comparison wild abalone naturally congregate in densities as high as 50kg per square metre of ocean bed.

Diseases such as AVG are not created or born on-farm and can only infect a farm if introduced from external sources, for example via introduced infected abalone stock or water. Consequently, by maintaining the highest level of biosecurity at the farm gate, the risk of disease infection via stock is mitigated significantly.

Ongoing CSIRO research into abalone disease is delivering a much greater understanding of abalone health, and it is anticipated this research will lead to tools and procedures that will be used to mitigate against and manage diseases such as AVG.

15. Which chemicals are used in the farming process?

The small amount of chemical used in abalone farming consist of domestic type cleaning, disinfection and gardening products, and abalone anaesthetics to assist in relaxing juvenile abalone to facilitate separation from the surfaces they cling to. No chemicals will be released or discharged into the sea.

  • All chemicals are stored in appropriate sheds/bunds and used in accordance with the Material Data Safety Sheets, (MSDS).
  • All anaesthetics are registered under the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) and used in accordance with the specific rules that apply to those products.
16. Would whales be affected?

Whale experts within Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) will be fully consulted as part of the permit process and will provide recommendations to avoid impacts on whales.

The waters off Portland’s north shore are frequently visited by whales in the winter months. Southern right whales have been known to spend time with their calves in its relatively sheltered waters including the waters near Yumbah’s Narrawong.

The presence of pump-ashore abalone farms has not in practice irritated or affected whales at Yumbah Narrawong or Yumbah Kangaroo Island sites. Yumbah Kangaroo Island, situated at Smith Bay on the island’s north coast, has been operating successfully and without incident for more than 20 years in an area well known to regularly attract southern right whales and their calves. Whales are often seen basking in front of the farm’s intake pipes.

17. What feed is used on the abalone farm?

Abalone are herbivores and typically eat seaweed in their natural environment. As harvesting natural seaweed is not sustainable in Australia, Yumbah manufactures its own grain-based diet which meets the nutritional profile for the abalone.

The Yumbah diet delivers a 1.6:1 Food Conversion Rate (FCR). This means for every 1.6 kilograms of feed; one kilogram of abalone is produced. This excellent FCR reduces the waste from the farm and is a major factor in reducing its environmental footprint.

Yumbah’s aquafeed consists of:

Salmon Meal 4-7%
Grains, (Soybean, maize starch, lupins, wheat) 75-80%
Casein 7-8%
Oils, vitamins minerals and algae 14%

Working on an FCR of about 1.6 to one, the feed input would be about four tonnes per day.

18. How would the pipes go to and from the farm?

Yumbah has identified four easements where pipes would traverse underground from the site to the foreshore. Most of the pipes would be installed at the western end of the property.

  • Pipes would be installed using trenching or directional drilling depending on the soil profile. All would be buried and hidden post installation.
  • Pipes are fixed to the ocean bed using weights and pins and they are designed to self-bury into sandy substrate.
  • Most of the pipes, especially at the western end of the property, traverse over sandy substrate and are expected to self-bury within six months post installation.
19. How will the area's cultural heritage be handled?

As part of the planning approvals process, Yumbah has commissioned a detailed Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP). The CHMP was undertaken by a Cultural Heritage advisor and the Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP) Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. No planning permits or other statutory approvals can be issued within a culture heritage area without an approved CHMP.

  • An extensive program of onsite testing has identified the extent and nature of the cultural heritage on the site, and a CHMP would provide a plan to manage the site heritage before, during and after the construction phase.
  • Yumbah has worked closely with the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation who share an interest in aquaculture. The project would provide exciting opportunities for collaboration between Yumbah - pioneers of modern aquaculture - and the Gunditjmara people, custodians of Budj Bim, the most ancient aquaculture system in the world.
20. What is the timeframe for construction?

Subject to strict environment and planning approvals and the raising of funding, it is anticipated construction of Yumbah Nyamat would start in early 2019 and finish by mid-2023.

21. How would the project be constructed?
  • Yumbah Nyamat would be constructed in four modules. Each module would be similar in size and function to the existing Narrawong farm.
  • Module building would start with the erection of shade cloth buildings and the subsequent laying of concrete inside these shelters to create abalone tanks. Construction would also include the development of roads, staff amenities, offices, workshops, storage sheds, hothouse structures, ponds and a bunkered pump system.
  • The ocean infrastructure would involve the installation of numerous inlet and outlet pipes which would be anchored to the ocean bed and, where possible, buried under the sand. The pipes would be buried through the beach and intertidal zone. This would keep the pipes mostly covered.
  • Yumbah Nyamat would be fitted with a large solar-power generation system, the first of its kind to be incorporated into an abalone farm in Australia. It’s expected the system would provide more than 30 per cent of the project’s total electricity requirements.
  • As a requirement of the permit process Yumbah would be required to complete a construction management plan.
  • Construction would consist of concrete pouring, civil works, construction of office amenities and sheds. These processes should not create significant amounts of noise and it will be restricted to business hours.
  • We don’t expect construction work would cause any significant unintended damage to the roads. If any damage was caused to local roads, it would be repaired.
  • Yumbah would take full responsibility for maintaining and restoring any damage to local roads to the Glenelg Shire standards during the construction phase. We would also establish detours around any road works so as not to disrupt the daily lives of residents. As most of our staff live locally, we are particularly sensitive to the need to preserve local amenity.
  • There are no plans for any prolonged disruptions to water, power or sewage during the construction phase.
  • We expect most of the construction will take place during normal business hours. However, there may be occasions due to weather and specialised jobs when construction may have to proceed outside these hours. Yumbah anticipates that construction work hours would be detailed in the construction management plan.
  • Yumbah Aquaculture embraces sustainable technology to meet its power requirements. Solar and wind generation capabilities will be incorporated into existing and future farms to supply up to 35 per cent of Yumbah’s on-farm power needs.
22. How will traffic be managed?
  • A traffic impact assessment has been completed.
  • Dutton Way, Kiellers Beach Rd and Princes Hwy are approved B-double routes and suitable for use by the types of trucks that would require access to the site.
  • On average, there will be five trucks per week, or one truck per weekday.
  • Trucks will travel to and from the site via Princes Hwy, Keillers Beach Road, and Dutton Way.
  • Staff will access the site via Princes Hwy, and travel down the internal roadway to access staff car parking and administration building.
  • Assuming all staff drive to work in their own vehicles there will be around 200 staff vehicle movements per day. We expect it to be less because staff will be encouraged to car pool, ride bikes and walk to work.
  • During construction, detours will be established around any road works so as not to disrupt the daily lives of local residents.
23. Who can I contact if I have issues during construction?

We are always happy to talk about any issues you may have in the lead up to, or during construction.

We have set up a dedicated email and phone number for you to use during the process – Nyamat.info@yumbah.com or 0437 144 416.

24. When would Yumbah be recruiting for new positions at Yumbah Nyamat?

Should the Yumbah Nyamat proposal receive all the required approvals, Yumbah will develop an employment plan to recruit the staff numbers required to proceed with Yumbah Nyamat. By June 2022, a team will be ready to hit the ground running at Yumbah Nyamat.

25. What's the distance between the Yumbah Nyamat farm proposal to the existing Port of Portland? How does this compare to the distance between Yumbah's Kangaroo Island farm and the proposed seaport at Smith Bay on Kangaroo Island?

Yumbah Kangaroo Island has been operating in Smith Bay for 22 years and is under threat from a proposed industrial seaport that, if approved, will be 200m from the existing Kangaroo Island farm.

The proposed Nyamat farm is 4.8km away from the Port of Portland.

Below is a comparison showing the difference in distances.

Portland and Smith Bay Comparison

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