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UTAS IMAS Experimental Aquaculture Facility

The University of Tasmania (UTAS) Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) identified a need for an Experimental Aquaculture Facility (EAF) to develop new and specialist research capabilities to support the growth and sustainability of the Tasmanian aquaculture industry. Professor Peter Rathjen the University of Tasmania Vice-Chancellor said of the project;

The work we are doing with the aquaculture industry through IMAS in both Hobart and Launceston is an example of how innovation can drive industry growth and economic revitalisation for Tasmania.


Sparks+Partners were engaged by Biosys Consulting to design and document the on-site sea and wastewater treatment plant for the pioneering Experimental Aquaculture Facility. While the requirements were understood conceptually, the detailed design and planning at a scientific level versus the realities of constructing in a corrosive environment required a pathway of lateral thinking and specialist insights into materials, products and functional application.

Despite some unforeseen obstacles and a deficit of project specific experience, we grouped together with Biosys Consulting, Hutchinson Builders and Netco Pumps & Equipment to complete the first Australian-based Experimental Aquaculture Facility.

Assisted by the in-depth expertise of Biosys Consulting, the documentation ingenuity of our own BIM manager, and the cumulative efforts of internal hydraulic resources, Sparks+Partners excelled in the sophisticated parameters of the assignment to deliver a milestone cutting-edge project and a landmark company achievement.

The EAF model devised as a result of this flagship development will form the template for similar national and international facilities. The learnings precipitated from such a unique build have earmarked both Sparks+Partners and Biosys Consulting as emerging leaders in the field.

Understandably, this stand-out $6.5 million facility was highly customised, meeting a comprehensive suite of specifications.

  • Refurbishment of a section of an existing building (the ‘EAF Building’) providing for a new insulated panel tank room holding 2500L fish research tanks and a biosecure entry room
  • Experimental fish tank farm comprising a number of fish research tanks from 7000L to 13000L, including water recirculating treatment system and associated pipework and sumps
  • A tank farm housed on a slab and retaining wall structure with trenches for running services
  • Demountable building comprising a wet room and other research facilities, biosecure entrance, and supporting amenities such as a feed drying room
  • Seawater treatment plant to treat intake seawater for the experimental systems
  • Several seawater storages from 3kL to 100kL
  • Integrated wastewater treatment for experimental discharge for release into an existing outfall
  • Software control system(s) to allow automatic monitoring and control of individual systems