WA aquaculture boom

WA’S AQUACULTURE industry is poised to boom with projects worth $60 to $70 million in development over the next two years.

The projects will focus on the farming of barramundi, prawns, abalone, various finfish species and some of the lesser known pearl oyster species such as the blacklip pear oyster and Shark Bay pearl oyster.

At an industry function this week hosted by The Aquaculture Council of WA, Fisheries Minister Monty House encouraged significant investment in the industry from the private sector.

Tax effective investment brokers were out in force at the event, held at Mead’s Mosman Bay, recognising the highly lucrative returns offered by aquaculture products.

Mr House said as worldwide demand for seafood continued and production in wild capture fisheries reached its potential, the demand for aquaculture would grow.

He said the State was in a unique position to capture a large share of the potential of aquaculture growth due to its long coastline, pristine environment, world-class research and development capabilities, access to brood stock and inland water resources.

“From abalone farming on the South Coast, prawn farming in Exmouth and large scale aquaculture development at Lake Argyle, aquaculture is coming of age in WA,” Mr House said.

“Farmers are also taking a larger role in the development of the industry and are incorporating aquaculture into their farming enterprises using existing infrastructure with success.

“Alert investors can harness this potential for profitability.”

He said the State Government had built a strong foundation for a major expansion of the industry in WA, recently investing $12.5 million towards its growth and development.

It has also funded the Broome Tropical and Albany Aquaculture Parks and the Aquaculture Development Fund, and developed the aquaculture program within Fisheries WA.

The industry is the fastest growing primary industry in Australia with an average annual increase in growth over the past five years of about 15 per cent.

In 1998-1999, aquaculture production in Australia rose by 19 per cent to $602 million, the majority of growth coming from prawns, salmon and tuna.

Aquaculture produces around 35 per cent of the gross value of the nation’s seafood and pearl production.

Fisheries WA executive director Peter Rogers said the vision of having $100 million aquaculture industry in the Kimberley region by 2005 continued to be a realistic aim.

“At least 10 years of significant Australian participation in marine prawn, abalone and barramundi research and development and farming has made current initiatives for these species far less risky,” Mr Rogers said.

“The growing maturity of the Australian sea cage technology and fish feed production sectors also means that new industries are not always ‘starting from scratch’ or being totally dependent on imported systems and products.”

An ACWA spokesperson said business planning and management along with economic analyses was now available for projects such as the proposed abalone farming projects along the southern and lower western coastline of WA.

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