The aquaculture industry in northern Australian is about to hit its straps.
A recently released report forecasts a five-fold increase in production to more than $1.34 billion within the next decade.
That’s in proportion to the current volume of fish, prawns and other seafood products.
The report has been written by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA), which found the growth would account for 2340 direct new jobs.
The research, led by James Cook University, comes with the twin caveats of overcoming challenges and capitalising on identified opportunities.
It has for the first time clearly articulated a future vision for the whole Northern Australian aquaculture industry, according to CRCNA chief executive officer Jed Matz.
“The project team has engaged with more than 400 industry players from across the aquaculture sector, including those from Indigenous communities,” Mr Matz said.
“The outcome of this engagement is the delivery of a set of strategic and well-supported recommendations not only focussed on addressing impediments but also providing solutions to these challenges.”
Strategic plan to help attract investment
The report identifies between 500,000 and 700,000 hectares suitable for marine farming in earthen and lined ponds.
It also noted that stronger biosecurity, good research and development and strong marketing outcomes were needed to fully realise the vision.
A strategic industry plan would help the sector and government attract investment in commercially viable projects, said Robert Bell from commercial aquaculture advisors Blueshift Consulting.
“The key to success is matching the right species, systems, critical-scale infrastructure and market accessibility with the right investors, financial structures and terms,” Mr Bell said.
“Further, government policy and facilitation, R&D, aquaculture operators, investors, and local communities must also align with Northern Australia’s natural and strategic advantages.
“We now have a strong body of evidence to support decision-making processes and to highlight what has and has not worked commercially across these areas in the past and what needs to change to ensure success moving forward.
The report also highlighted the role Traditional Owners had to play in the industry’s future.