KEY concerns of residents have been considered in the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed finfish research farm off Hawks Nest.
A site 3.5 kilometres off the coast has been earmarked for a 20-hectare farm with a focus on extending research into species such as yellowtail kingfish and southern bluefin tuna.
NSW Fisheries manager of aquaculture Ian Lyall said fisheries conducted many meetings to provide information to the businesses and communities in the Tea Gardens Hawks Nest area about the project.
"We've taken on their concerns in the draft EIS," he said.
He said some of their main concerns included migratory pathways of whales and sharks and feed issues. Mr Lyall said a recent risk assessment of the construction and operation of the farm identified 27 risks which were ranked in order of severity. None were listed as high, and only four were listed as moderate, these included impacts on marine habitat, chemical use, introduced pests and diseases and changed migratory patterns.
"We've taken note of the identified risks and what we can do to mitigate them," Mr Lyall said.
Mr Lyall said the project would have a number of positive impacts for the community including employment opportunities for boat drivers and commercial divers. He said the farm would act as an important tool in ensuring sustainable seafood production in Australia. The draft EIS along with a draft Environment Management Plan was sent to the Department of Planning last week where it will be tested for adequacy. Once the EIS and draft environmental plan have been approved the project will go on public exhibition. Mr Lyall predicts this will be in about three months time.