Article – Prawn farmers hopeful northern aquaculture inquiry will drive industry expansion

by 16 April 2015

20 March 2015
Carmen Brown
ABC Rural

Commercial prawn farmers are hopeful a parliamentary inquiry into northern aquaculture will help drive investment and expansion across the industry.

The inquiry was announced by the Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia yesterday, and will focus on new projects, products, markets and innovation.

President of the Australian Prawn Farmers Association, Matt West, welcomed the move, but said the focus should be on expanding existing businesses, rather than commercialising new species.

“I think the biggest opportunities for northern aquaculture lie with the expansion of the current well-known and well-practised species, like the prawn and barramundi industries,” he said.

“Innovation in new species and products is essential for growth, but I don’t think the government can lose sight that they have an opportunity to grow an existing industry.”

The CSIRO has identified more than 1.6 million hectares of land suitable for aquaculture development in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

However, Mr West said significant investment in infrastructure was required before existing businesses could take advantage of growing market opportunities.

“There are still a few spots along the east coast of Queensland that have potential and are close to some of that critical infrastructure, be it road, rail and electricity networks,” he said.

“But a lot of the designated areas lie in places lacking that critical infrastructure, like up in the Gulf.

“So for there to be suitable sites, the government obviously needs to spend dollars on some of this infrastructure to make sure that’s around.”

Written submissions to the inquiry will be accepted up until May 1.

A commercial prawn farm in northern Queensland.

Courtesy of ABC Rural

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