Govt about to close aquaculture centre

THE State's only freshwater aquaculture research facility, based near Grafton, is to be closed.

It is understood staff at the Trenayr facility were visited by a departmental officer about two weeks ago and told the centre would close within 10-12 months.

Member for Clarence, Steve Cansdell, said he had not been aware of the impending closure until contacted by the Examiner. His colleague, the opposition spokesman for Primary Industries, Duncan Gay, also had not been advised.

Mr Cansdell said Mr Gay would ask Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald in Parliament today to outline the future of the aquaculture centre.

Mr Cansdell said people from the Clarence had fought for the retention of facilities at the Grafton Agricultural Research and Advisory Station (where the aquaculture facility is located) about four years ago and were assured its future was safe.

“We had 600 people turn up at Market Square to fight for it,” he said. “This is the only freshwater facility in NSW and has been at the forefront of developing the silver perch industry.

“If they are closing this down it is just another stupid decision from this government.”

The Trenayr facility was heavily involved in research that ultimately saved the endangered Eastern Freshwater Cod from extinction and also helped establish the silver perch industry, which is now producing between 350 and 500 tonne of fish commercially each year.

Former employee and current commercial silver perch producer Calvin Terry of Terraquatic at Braunstone said the research facility was increasingly being starved for funds.

“Now that the wild-caught industry is in decline, we (producers) could really be on a winner, and they (the State Government) are shutting it down,” he said.

“It is just silly.”

The office of the Minister for Primary Industries was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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