New Assessment Process for Tourism Development in Aquaculture Zones

In late November 2021 the State Government passed the Aquaculture (Tourism Development) Amendment Bill 2021. The Bill, currently awaiting assent, seeks to streamline the assessment and approval process for aquaculture related tourism development, such as on-water oyster shucking or swimming with tuna,  by amending the Aquaculture Act 2001.

The Act regulates the aquaculture industry and provides, amongst other things, for the creation of ‘aquaculture zones’ within State waters; areas where aquaculture is permitted subject to necessary leases and licences. The Act currently operates in addition to the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (PDI Act), such that proponents wishing to undertake aquaculture tourism development must apply separately under that act for development authorisation. This is in addition to the requirement to seek authority to construct on the seabed from the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure under the Harbors and Navigation Act 1993.

The Bill will instead seek to create a ‘one-stop shop’ for aquaculture tourism development, by removing the application of the PDI Act to this type of development, and by authorizing the Minister for Primary Industries and Regions to grant tourism leases and licences over land underlying State waters.

Under the Bill, applications for aquaculture tourism development will be assessed by the Minister, who will grant development authorisation if they are satisfied that the proposed development –

  • will complement, promote, be of benefit to, or otherwise relate directly to aquaculture undertaken within the aquaculture zone;
  • can be undertaken in a manner that is ecologically sustainable; and
  • is consistent with the objects of this Act and any relevant provisions of an applicable aquaculture policy

Before granting an authorisation, the Minister must seek the concurrence of the entity in which the subject land is vested, and refer any conditions contemplated by the Minister to the Environment Protection Authority for approval. Any building work will still need to be certified by a building certifier as complying with the Building Rules under the PDI Act.

Applications for aquaculture related tourism development in locations outside of aquaculture zones will continue to follow the current regulatory assessment and approval process.

You can track the progress of this Bill and others here

If you have any questions contact us on 08 8212 9777 or at