Regional Development Minister Hendy Cowan says jobs and other economic benefits are set to flow from a new partnership between the Southern Aboriginal Corporation and Great Southern Marine Hatcheries.
The two companies have joined forces to run Western Australia’s only abalone hatchery, located in Albany.
“The new partnership is a tremendous opportunity to develop the hatchery B - which was established by Great Southern Marine Hatcheries in 1997 - into a substantial local industry,” Mr Cowan said at the launch today.
“There is considerable export potential for abalone, particularly in Asia, where it is regarded as a delicacy and fetching premium prices.
“The only thing holding the industry back is the lack of juvenile abalone. Once commercial stocks are available from the hatchery there will be considerable capacity to build a strong export market.
“The involvement of Southern Aboriginal Corporation not only puts the venture on a strong commercial footing, but also offers specific opportunities for local Aborigines to participate in a new industry.”
Mr Cowan said Great Southern Marine Hatcheries had invested substantial funds over the past year to research and develop suitable growing conditions for the young abalone, which had a very high mortality rate.
“The company has made significant progress, and the decision to bring in a partner will inject new capital into the venture to allow it to expand,” he said.
The Office of Aboriginal Economic Development at the Department of Commerce and Trade spent months assisting the Southern Aboriginal Corporation research and develop a funding submission to ATSIC.
“The result of those efforts is that ATSIC has now approved business finance of $500,000 to allow the partnership to go ahead,” Mr Cowan said.
“It is an excellent example of what can be achieved when Commonwealth and State Government agencies work together to pursue regional opportunities.”
Mr Cowan said that once the hatchery increased output, it would provide a valuable supply source for other WA companies wanting to stock young abalone and grow them to maturity for export sale.
More than a dozen companies had already sought licences and were now simply waiting for stock from the hatchery to proceed.
Great Southern Marine Hatcheries is also planning to develop its own grow-out facility to capitalise on the end-line export opportunities.
Media contact: Peter Jackson 9222 9595