The Burnett Heads Monsoon Aquatics facility is on its way to becoming the preeminent coral aquaculture hub in Australia.
The leading Australian exporter of live coral and fish, which already has facilities in Darwin and Cairns, opened its Burnett Heads Facility in September 2019 with hopes to expand into coral aquaculture.
Those hopes have been realised and company director Daniel Kimberley said Bundaberg has quickly become the base for the rest of the organisation.
“Bundaberg is actually our biggest facility in the business,” he said.
“We have one in Darwin, one in Cairns and one in Bundaberg, and Bundaberg has grown very quickly to be the biggest.”
Despite being established in other areas, Daniel said the Burnett Heads facility was the current focus.
“We’ve started our coral propagation program and we just got our aquaculture licence for the whole property, so now we can move to coral spawning which is going to be our next big project here,” he said.
“The aquaculture licence means we can look at the sexual reproduction of coral, clams and fish on site.
“Ideally, I can see the base here in Bundaberg becoming a hub for the business for aquaculture, and one day being involved in reef restoration too.
“Producing corals here that can then be put back into the wild, that’s a great endgame for us.”
Burnett Heads ideal for coral success
Monsoon Aquatics harvest coral across the northern coastline from Queensland to Western Australia.
Unlike other locations, the site at Burnett Heads provides vital unrestricted access to salt water.
“The site we have here is really conducive to what we do,” Daniel said.
“It’s about having the access to saltwater. We’re using water from the river which isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough to filter and use, whereas in Cairns and Darwin we have to truck the saltwater in.”
Daniel said the Burnett Heads site is being replicated elsewhere, employing Bundaberg Region contractors.
“We’ve done it properly and created a template that works and our new Darwin facility is being set up in the next three months,” he said.
“We’ve got 20 fibreglass tanks that are being built in Bundaberg and sent to Darwin by a Bundaberg removalist company because the tanks are so good.
“Arne who makes them at Leisure Build does great quality work.”
Local support follows growth
Education is part of the organisation's core values, with Monsoon Aquatics being awarded Reef Guardian status.
Daniel said Monsoon Aquatics had strict guidelines and rules in place to ensure sustainable practices, and that the team rotates harvest areas and uses the coral it collectes to grow more.
“Community support has been great, and we’ve had had some school groups come through,” he said.
“While we work on the reef, it’s everyone’s reef not just ours. We have access and a licence, but it is a shared resource and we’re very aware of that.”