A PROPOSED south-west abalone farm would be the biggest facility for abalone production in Australia.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) hearing for the planned $73 million project at Dutton Way near Portland began in Warrnambool on Monday.
Counsel representing Yumbah Aquaculture, Adrian Finanzio, told the hearing the project would produce 1000 tonnes of premium abalone per year. He said wild stocks of abalone were under threat world wide and in Australia the wild catch harvest had halved in the past 20 years.
"You can't do this type of aquaculture just anywhere," he said.
He said there were specific characteristics needed for an abalone farm to be productive.
Mr Finanzio said Yumbah Aquaculture had been operating in Narrawong for the past 20 years and it was the largest abalone company in Australia.
He said they were the world's largest producer of greenlip abalone and if the planning application was approved by VCAT it would be the largest facility for abalone production in Australia.
Glenelg Shire Council approved the planning application in April 2019 with a number of amendments and concessions. The council and Environment Protection Authority Victoria received 335 submissions and three petitions on the proposed farm.
Of those submissions, 237 were opposed and 90 were in support of the proposed 63-hectare site.
At the time objectors included Abalone Divers Association executive officer Harry Peeters, Gunditjimara woman Amy Saunders, Tony Wright - whose family has lived in Portland since the 1840s - and lawyer Stephen Davis who spoke on behalf of the Port of Portland (POPL).
Speaking at the council meeting on behalf of the residents, Mr Wright said he lived 24-metres from the southern boundary of the proposed development site.
"This would be one of the world's biggest farms and would irrevocably alter the landscape, and overwhelm the homes of residents, some of who have lived on Dutton Way for generations," he said. "We have no problem with Yumbah wishing to expand its operations but to do so within a small seaside village - the last green seaside entrance to Portland - is simply the wrong space. Yumbah, itself on its website, boasts that it places its farms in isolated areas."