In a significant move to diversify the local economy, the City of Karratha councillors have given the green light to a sustainable aquaculture Algae Farm project. The development application, submitted by WRS Bioproducts, was unanimously approved during the council meeting on November 20. The proposed algae farm is set to be located on the salt flats at the eastern end of the Karratha Airport, within an area known as the Eco Hub. The project expands upon a previously endorsed proposal from 2020, enlarging the algae ponds from two 60-hectare lakes to two expansive 98-hectare algae lakes. WRS Bioproducts aims to cultivate low-volume but high-value beta-carotene in these hyper-saline and shallow man-made lakes. Beta-carotene has widespread applications in dietary supplements, functional food, food colouring, cosmetics, and animal food supplements. The algae farm will join the ranks of established companies within the Eco Hub, such as Rainstorm and EcoMag, contributing to the growth of sustainable industries in the region. City of Karratha Mayor Daniel Scott expressed enthusiasm for the project, highlighting its potential to bring new industry to Karratha and support economic diversification. “We are focused on diversifying the local economy and supporting new industries as part of our goal to improve sustainability and our vision to be Australia’s most liveable regional City,” he said. The Eco Hub concept, initiated in 2017, aims to attract innovative and environmentally sustainable enterprises to the Karratha Airport vicinity. WRS Bioproducts’ development aligns seamlessly with this vision, promising to sustain the local economy and create additional jobs. In assessing the development application, the City has prioritised minimising and addressing the potential impact on the surroundings, including the Karratha Airport. WRS Bioproducts executive chairman Harry Rosen highlighted Karratha’s suitability for sustainable aquaculture. “We looked closely around Australia for the right location for our Algae Farm, and the Pilbara is the best region for algae production,” he said. Mr Rosen emphasised the vital role of aquaculture, noting that algae are seven times more effective at capturing carbon than land-based plants. While the proposal has secured approval from the City of Karratha, it is now subject to further legislative approvals before implementation.