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Fitzgerald Bay facts for kids

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Fitzgerald Bay is a large bay located between Point Lowly and Backy Point in South Australia's upper Spencer Gulf region. The bay's shoreline consists mostly of pebble beaches and sparse grey mangroves. In the 2000s the bay was used for the farming of yellowtail kingfish until their closure circa 2011 in response to high levels of fish mortality. Understanding of the environmental impacts of yellowtail kingfish farming is limited. As of 2020, fish farming has not returned to Fitzgerald Bay, but aquaculture zones remain in place.


Fitzgerald bay is named after a former South Australian parliamentarian and member for Port Pirie, John Christopher Fitzgerald who reportedly held strong faith for a prosperous future for the upper Spencer Gulf built on the back of iron ore mining. Prior to 1937, the bay was known by the informal name, Backy's Bay. According to old Port Augusta residents, the bay was originally named Becky's Bay by Mr McCarthy (father of Alf McCarthy) whose father was Port Augusta's first pilot and harbormaster. "Becky" was a nickname derived from Rebecca, the first name of McCarthy senior's wife.

Fish farming

Fish farming in Fitzgerald Bay began in the late 1990s at pilot scale with yellowtail kingfish, Seriola lalandi. Production increased over the next decade, then de-stocking occurred between 2009 and 2011. The bay's aquaculture were totally abandoned in 2012. In 2017, Clean Seas was aiming to restart their operations in Fitzgerald Bay and increase their production quota to 4200 tonnes from their prior quota of 2400 tonnes. While operational, fish farming became the upper Spencer Gulf's larger nutrient pollution source.

Giant Australian cuttlefish breeding aggregations

The Giant Australian cuttlefish, Sepia apama, forms mass breeding aggregations in the Upper Spencer Gulf, most notably to the southwest of Point Lowly (outside of Fitzgerald Bay). Smaller aggregations occur within Fitzgerald Bay at the northern end (Backy Point) and the southern end (to the north and south of the Point Lowly North Marina).

Historic industrial proposals

Between 1937 and 1939 the site was considered for a prospective naval shipbuilding yard. One of the site's disadvantages was a lack of power supply and Whyalla was chosen instead. In 1952, Fitzgerald Bay was chosen as a prospective site for the first nuclear power plant in the Southern hemisphere, and discussion of the prospect continued until 1954. The proposal was never formalised, though uranium-bearing ore was mined in South Australia at Radium Hill and refined at Port Pirie during the 1950s and early 1960s. Then Premier Thomas Playford described the bay as "very well protected and (it) has deep water close in shore. It would be close to transmission lines and it appeared to me to have every qualification necessary for the site of such a plant."

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