07/12/2004 - 21:00

Sustainable aquaculture search

07/12/2004 - 21:00


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ONE business looking to take advantage of the global sustainability phenomenon (see story above) is Perth-based ASX-listed aquaculture company Marine Produce Australia (MPA).

Sustainable aquaculture search

ONE business looking to take advantage of the global sustainability phenomenon (see story above)  is Perth-based ASX-listed aquaculture company Marine Produce Australia (MPA).

According to UK-based business magazine The Economist, aquaculture has been among the fastest growing forms of food production during the past decade, due to depleted fish supplies, increased demand and growing environmental awareness.

Fish farming has become big public business in Europe and the US and MPA believes the timing is right for a company to become a major exporter of ‘sustainably’ farmed Australian fish and seafood.

Until recently MPA had been solely focused on developing the production of saltwater barramundi and tiger prawns in northern Australia. However, the company has recently adopted a new, broadly focused strategy, changing its name from Tiger International to Marine Produce Australia to better reflect this.

While MPA will maintain its original projects it will now look to support a broad range of other aquaculture Australian ventures, including abalone, yellow tail kingfish, tuna, other types of prawns.

The Australian aquaculture industry has lagged behind those in Northern Hemisphere countries in recent years.

Despite the establishment of a few larger, private players, MPA executive chairman Ashley Zimpel said Aust-ralian aquaculture generally remained a fragmented, cottage industry.

He blames this on a lack of marketing strategy, as well as low interest from large professional investors.

“The [Australian] industry has a low profile internationally with little or no brand recognition outside a very limited product range,” Mr Zimpel told investors at a presentation in Perth last week.

“Here in Australia there has been very little attempt made to define product as specifically Australian – wild caught, farmed or even by region.”

Despite these obstacles, consumer demand for sustainable seafood is growing, creating the conditions for consolidation and development of the industry.

A key plank of MPA’s new strategy is to target export markets with overt branding.

“As Australian grown and export driven our new name, Marine Produce Australia – The Sustainable Australian, defines our aim to be the leading diversified Australian aquaculture company that adheres to ethical, responsible and sustainable management,” Mr Zimpel said.

MPA is also working with non-profit environmental group Leave no Trace Australia in order to establish and maintain high environmental standards in its farming operations.


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