Qld Country Hour – Lara Webster, ABC Rural
A Queensland prawn farmer says aquaculture may be booming around the world, but not in Australia.
The national industry is worth $80 million a year, with 80 per cent of farmed prawns produced in Queensland.
But Gold coast prawn farmer Nick Moore said Australian aquaculture was being held back by over-regulation.
Mr Moore said the industry’s growth had been road-blocked for the past decade, when it was potentially worth billions of dollars.
Last year, the Queensland Competition Authority put together a draft report which recommended reforming regulation in the industry to create more growth and attract more investment.
However, the final report has not been released by the State Government.
Mr Moore said the delay had created uncertainty in the industry.
“We just can’t keep taking from the wild. It’s not going to be there to take,” he said.
“It’s the only way we’ll be able to feed the population of the planet. Australia has the great opportunity to follow that, but it seems we’re the only country in the world where aquaculture isn’t the fastest growing industry and that’s just wrong.
“I just wish that somebody would realise if you’re going to grow food in this country, they’ve got to start helping what we do.”
However, Queensland Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne said the State Government would release the report in due course for consultation, although he could not give a date.
“I am an enthusiastic supporter of aquaculture and as the Fisheries Minister I want to support its development and expansion,” Mr Byrne said.
“We want to ensure that we make the right decisions so that aquaculture can thrive and prosper in the future.”
That was not enough for Australian Prawn Farmers Association president Matt West.
He would like to see the report released immediately and said there had still not been any indication of State Government support for the industry’s expansion, as far as he was aware.
“At the moment there’s still not much love on it at all,” Mr West said.
“We’re really hoping that will change soon so that the relevant government organisations that are involved in the whole process can start streamlining themselves and working together.”
Both Mr West and Mr Moore believed the perceived impact of nutrient and sediment run-off from fish farms could have on the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem was a major roadblock in any possible industry reforms.
However, Australian Prawn Farmers Association vice-president John Moloney said the industry was working towards implementing a Stewardship Action Plan, which would reduce runoff over the next five years.
“We’re going to work on various systems like our discharge water system, treatment systems, feed supplies and we will monitor, track and report back on where we are headed towards that,” he said.
“We would like to operate our businesses with no impact whatsoever on the environment.”