VICTOR HARBOR – An appeal in the environment court against a ‘swim with the tuna’ in-sea aquarium coming to Victor Harbor has been lost.
This week the Environment, Resources and Development (ERD) Court ruled in favour of Oceanic Victor, after community groups and business people lodged an appeal against the proposal earlier this year.
Oceanic Victor will operate its in-sea aquarium in waters off Granite Island next year after it was proposed 18 months ago.
The state government, which manages the island, assessed the tourist venture and granted Oceanic Victor a pilot lease in December 2015.
Oceanic Victor planned to have the operation in south coast waters in February 2016, but was delayed by the appeal.
A Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources spokesperson said the judgement paves the way for the state government to finalise lease negotiations with Oceanic Victor for use of the Granite Island site.
Oceanic Victor director Mike Dyer said the approval was testament to two years of hard work. “It is an excellent result and a long time coming,” Mr Dyer said.
The in-sea aquarium is currently in operation at Port Lincoln.
Mr Dyer said it will be towed to Victor Harbor after the school holidays. “We hope to have it up and running by Easter,” he said.
The Friends of Encounter Coast are disappointed by the verdict of the ERD Court.
A spokesperson said their case raised many valid points to the court supported by highly qualified and independent expert witnesses.
“We are very proud to have represented the views of vast numbers of the local community, both resident and property owners and the views of many South Australian holiday makers who use our local waters each summer,” the spokesperson said.
“We are still highly concerned about the medium to long-term implications of this proposal with its very limited operating life as a pilot lease being approved and what could happen in five years after the lease’s pilot status expires.”