Marine resources

Aquaculture and Biosecurity

BMT Oceanica provides environmental services to marine aquaculture developments and has a thorough understanding of related technical issues, management approaches and regulatory requirements

BMT Oceanica is a leader in the provision of environmental services to the marine aquaculture industry.  In the last 10 years, BMT Oceanica has supported the aquaculture industry through provision of targeted advice on the development and execution of baseline environmental surveys, marine habitat mapping and site selection. Through our close collaboration with BMT WBM, we have developed environmental modelling packages, encompassing 3D-hydrodynamic, water quality, particle transport and sediment biogeochemical models.  When coupled with relevant baseline information, these integrated packages allow prediction of impacts from sea-cage operations and estimation of sea-floor recovery timelines after fallowing or sea-cage relocation.  These environmental modelling packages are readily customisable and can be scaled to meet budgetary and logistical constraints.

In addition, BMT Oceanica has over 10 years experience in the design and implementation of environmental monitoring programs and the development of environmental management plans for aquaculture farms. Our monitoring capabilities are augmented by our in-house capacity to deploy accessorised remotely operated vehicles (ROVs; with video and sampling capabilities), our commercially qualified divers for shallow water operations, and through our strategic partnerships with leading research institutions.

In addition to our technical skills, BMT Oceanica has over 20 years of experience working with Australian regulators and an expert understanding of regulatory requirements.  Our knowledge of the environmental pressures and key cause-effect pathways relevant to aquaculture is readily transferable to international destinations, as is our experience of best practice aquaculture environmental impact assessment (EIA) and operational management.


Relevant services and projects

  • Marine environmental monitoring and managementBMT Oceanica has extensive experience in the design and implementation of baseline surveys and in the development of environmental management plans (EMPs) for the aquaculture industry, and also the resources industry in general. We regularly draw upon this knowledge to develop cost-effective and robust monitoring and management solutions. Our recent experience includes the development of EMPs for aquaculture proponents in the Kimberley and Houtman Abrolhos regions of Australia, and the design and implementation of baseline water and sediment quality monitoring programs for several aquaculture strategic assessments.
  • Environmental modelling - BMT Oceanica and BMT WBM work closely together as sister organisations to develop environmental models for the aquaculture industry.  Together, we have developed environmental models for two large aquaculture developments in Australia and one in the Middle East.  A key component of the process was to develop an integrated environmental model capable of resolving the effects of fish-wastes on the marine environment, and also the rate of environmental recovery following cessation and/or relocation of the proposed activities (fallowing). The models delivered practical outcomes by providing conservative estimates of the likely impacts (sea-cage footprints), assisting regulators in the setting of carrying capacity limits, and supporting the design of management protocols (including suggested timing of fallowing and/or cage relocation).
  • Marine habitat mapping and aquaculture site selection - Our state-of-the-art marine habitat maps are produced by our team of GIS and remote sensing specialists, with critical input from our team of highly-trained marine ecologists.  Over the past two decades our work has relied on our spatially accurate benthic habitat maps, which are typically comprised of geo-rectified imagery analysed by imaging experts in association with groundtruthing data.  Our groundtruthing data collection techniques vary according to technical, logistical, financial and safety issues, and may include diver surveys, ROV surveys, towed underwater video, side-scan sonar and multi-beam technologies.  BMT Oceanica has produced several high quality maps for large aquaculture projects, which have been used in support of decisions regarding placement of aquaculture sea-cage infrastructure, and positioning of monitoring sites.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) - BMT Oceanica works to minimise uncertainty surrounding EIA and the approvals pathway, by interpreting and explaining the relevant processes and likely outcomes, and implementing an appropriate program of technical studies.  BMT Oceanica has an excellent understanding of the EIA requirements and regulatory framework associated with aquaculture proposals, and has provided technical advice in support of several large aquaculture projects. 
  • Development of impact thresholds  - BMT Oceanica has up-to-date knowledge of the aquaculture literature, and worked with proponents and regulators to develop a suit of practical environmental indicators and triggers for managing the potential environmental effects of aquaculture.  A key component of this work has included the development of thresholds for infaunal communities based on predicted rates of fish waste deposition, and the development and approval of two EMPs for large sea-cage aquaculture systems.
  • Training - BMT Oceanica has the skills and experience to offer training and technical support to international governments in the development and implementation of best-practice EIA techniques, and in the monitoring and management of aquaculture operations. We have expertise in marine environmental sampling and in the development and assessment of environmental triggers using an array of descriptive, visual and statistical techniques. BMT Oceanica employs dozens of marine scientists, coastal geographers and engineers, many of whom hold adjunct teaching positions at Western Australian universities.
  • Project management and field operations - The combination of BMT Oceanica's staff expertise, experience and efficient management systems has successfully delivered outstanding project management, data analysis and reporting outcomes across a number of small and large aquaculture proposals for numerous customers. We offer a one stop solution to aquaculture development and can assemble teams of relevant experts to address almost any marine science or aquaculture related issue. 
  • Data management - BMT Oceanica’s Environmental Data Management (EDM) team captures, stores, and manages environmental data.  We also design and build databases to provide a personalised solution to data storage.  Our EDM team utilise various technologies to collect, upload and store environmental data in our secure on-line databases.
  • Biostatistics and survey design - In 2012-13, BMT Oceanica designed and undertook extensive baseline surveys in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia.  The baseline studies formed part of a strategic assessment undertaken by the Department of Fisheries, to expand an existing aquaculture lease in Cone Bay.  Data collected during the survey informed the development of a coupled hydrodynamic and ecological model used to predict the environmental ramifications of the aquaculture expansion.
water and sediment quality

Marine environment monitoring and management

We have an expert understanding of the development and implementation of Environmental Monitoring and Management (EMMP) programs.

Read more here
Fish and coral

Environmental Impact Assessments

BMT Oceanica maintains an expert understanding of local EIA and regulatory frameworks.

Read more about EIAs