APPROVED plans by Oceanic Victor to open a tuna pen tourist attraction at Granite Island – previously located in Port Lincoln before it was sold - has been met with unexpected opposition.
The interactive pontoon, which includes a swim with tuna experience, has been met with resistance in Victor Harbor by local water users and beach goers.
The facility was sold to Oceanic Victor last year and one of the company's directors Michael Dyer said they were not expecting such strong opposition to the new location.
He said there was also a lot of support for it from local businesses and residents.
“We applied for an aquaculture marine licence which was approved by PIRSA (Primary Industry and Regions SA),” Mr Dyer said.
He said the licence came with a lot of restrictions published on the PIRSA website.
The licence came with a list of approved species the operation could house and a further 18 restrictions, which included a sea-floor environmental monitoring program, maintaining accurate records of any in-situ cleaning for farming structures, and preventing and notifying the minister of any escaped fish, entanglements and adverse interaction with sea birds.
Mr Dyer said “chatter on social media” that the facility would attract sharks and would operate as a tuna farm was “nonsense”.
“There’s this misconception or horrible perception spread on Facebook that it will attract sharks and that's not the case.”
Mr Dyer said a response document put together by PIRSA confirmed it was unlikely sharks would change their behavior because of the pen.
He said in the document that the operation’s low stocking density, low feeding and removal of sick, dying or dead stock through site management meant it was unlikely sharks that happened to be in the area would remain in close proximity.
“A similar tourism company (Swim With the Tuna Pty Ltd), located 2 kilometres from Port Lincoln has been in operation since January 2011, during which time no interactions with sharks have been reported.
“To further mitigate attracting sharks, no aquaculture stock will be harvested as part of this application as a licence condition,” the document said.
Mr Dyer said there was still work to do before the tourism venture was relocated and up and running.
“We have to get the mooring organised, take footage of the bottom and brand the facility and the penguin centre,” he said.
He said with the operation’s close proximity to Adelaide, the company expected it would do well once established.
“We think it will do really well, we’re looking at getting schools involved during winter, get the universities involved as it's only an hour’s drive from Adelaide.”