A $420,000 project funded by the federal government aims at expanding the aquaculture industry in northern Australia.
The Northern Australian Aquaculture Industry Situational Analysis has been commissioned by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia.
Over the next 12 months, researchers from James Cook University will work with the CSIRO, Blueshift Consulting, the Australian Barramundi Farmers Association, Australian Prawn Farmers Association and the Indigenous Land Corporation to develop a comprehensive aquaculture plan.
Federal resources and northern Australia minister Matt Canavan announced details of the project – to be led by James Cook University – in Townsville.
“Aquaculture is already worth more than $240 million a year in Northern Australia but we believe it can be further expanded and this study will help map out future developments,” Canavan said.
“It will examine issues including market and investment opportunities, jobs and skills, biosecurity, animal health, and environmental considerations.”
Federal member for Dawson George Christensen said he welcomed funding for an emerging industry in the region.
“Aquaculture is a growing industry in centres like Bowen and the Burdekin and I have met with a number of current and prospective proponents in recent years,” Christensen said.
“There is the potential to create hundreds of jobs in regions that desperately need them, and this investment by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia in putting together a plan for future developments will be welcomed with open arms.”
Canavan said Northern Australia is well-placed to benefit from growing world demand for sustainably sourced seafood farmed in freshwater and marine locations.
“Australian aquaculture production grew by more than 50 per cent between 2006–07 and 2016–17 to almost 94,000 tonnes, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.
“National aquaculture production in 2016-17 was $1.3 billion. That included $120 million in Queensland, $90 million in Western Australia and $34 million in the Northern Territory.
“Those figures are good but I want to see aquaculture in Northern Australia grow further, providing jobs and income for northern communities in often remote areas.”
Canavan said this is the third aquaculture project funded by the CRC for Developing Northern Australia.
“It highlights the strategic importance of the aquaculture industry to growing jobs and opportunities in Northern Australia,’’ he said.
“Overall, the Coalition Government’s has committed $75 million over 10 years to the CRC for Developing Northern Australia for industry-led research collaborations in agriculture and food, health service delivery, and Traditional Owner-led business development.”