Bold outline for future of Aust seafood

Robyn WuthAAP
The plan proposes better utilisation of available areas to expand and grow the aquaculture industry.
Camera IconThe plan proposes better utilisation of available areas to expand and grow the aquaculture industry.

The northern Australian aquaculture industry has launched a bold plan to produce more than five times its current volume of fish, prawns and other seafood products within the next decade.

The bid to increase production five-fold would bring in $1.34 billion in revenue for a region stretching along 12,400km of Australia's coastline, from Kalbarri in Western Australia to Gladstone in Queensland.

The proposal would create 2340 new jobs for the region, according to a report from the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia published on Friday.

The research, led by James Cook University, has outlined a potential future vision for the whole Northern Australian aquaculture industry - if the industry worked together.

"The opportunity for the development of Northern Australia's aquaculture industry is vast, with between 500,000 to 700,000 hectares suitable for marine farming in earthen and lined ponds, and 50 times that available for freshwater operations," JCU's Professor Dean Jerry said

The best-case scenario was based on better utilisation of the available areas for expansion and growth of on-shore and off-shore facilities.

"A more co-ordinated approach across the sector is needed to support stronger biosecurity protocols and infrastructure investment, good RD&E and production outcomes, strong marketing efforts and an increase in global demand to fully realise our 2030 vision," Prof Jerry added.

The strategic industry plan will help the sector and the government attract investment in commercially viable projects.

It also highlights the role traditional owners, responsible for managing 45 per cent of land and sea country in northern Australia, could play in the industry's future.

"Aquaculture has been practised for thousands of years by indigenous Australians and understanding how communities value fishing resources and fishing access is a key component to achieving greater participation of indigenous people in commercial fishing," Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation chairperson Eddie Fry said.

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