QUEENSLAND is well positioned to become the aquaculture capital of the world as the industry records record global growth.
By Jessica Johnston
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner travelled to Townsville today to visit James Cook University’s aquaculture research lab in a bid to entice further aquaculture investment in North Queensland.
Mr Furner said Queensland had never been better placed to capitalise on the growth industry, which globally, is growing faster than any other agricultural sector.
In 2013, for the first time, global aquaculture production exceeded that of beef and this trend in global growth is continuing.
“Queensland stands at the foot of a mountain of potential growth in the aquaculture industry,” Mr Furner said.
“And with markets in Asia hungry for high quality Australian seafood products, now is the time to strike.”
Mr Furner said he believed the untapped potential for seafood enterprises could energise regional communities.
“What really stuck with me was the ability for a range of investors, from family operations to multinational companies, to get involved in the aquaculture space,” he said.
“I met a farmer south of Mackay who took out two fields of cane and replaced it with a dam full of barramundi and was sending tonnes of fish to the Sydney Markets every month.
“If opportunities like this harnessed and built upon, there will be a direct injection of jobs into local communities.”
Townsville MP Scott Stewart said North Queensland was primed to take advantage of the aquaculture boom.
“The North Queensland seafood production industry can lead the way on this initiative,” Mr Stewart said.
“Already we have seen successful investment in the region, but given the capacity the industry has for growth, I want to see more.
“This has the power to bring more jobs to Townsville and provide a real injection to our economy.”
Mr Furner said the Government had established the Aquaculture Industry Development Network to facilitate private sector interactions with government about aquaculture development.
The forecast gross value of production of Queensland aquaculture for 2017-18 was $125 million, an increase of 4.4 per cent from 2016-17.
More than 500 people are directly employed by the industry in Queensland.