THE Mackay region has become an “engine room of growth” for Queensland’s
aquaculture industry.

Member for Mackay, Julianne Gilbert said with more aquaculture jobs than any other region, the industry has a lot of upside in the Mackay region and plenty of great opportunities to come.

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“We did the work to create aquaculture development areas where industry could be confident to invest and now it is paying off.

“More than 4300 tonnes of seafood valued at $73.2 million was produced in the Mackay region last financial year, supporting 270 full time equivalent jobs.”

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner released the annual Aquaculture Production Summary for Queensland, which showed the industry going from strength to strength.

“The total value of the Queensland aquaculture industry has increased by 17.4 per cent, with the value of production rising to a record high of $193.5 million in 2020-21, up from $164.9 million the previous year.

“Total aquaculture production increased by 24 per cent from 9535.8 tonnes to 11824.6 tonnes and this was driven by the prawn and barramundi sectors.

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“The relative importance of aquaculture to Queensland’s total fisheries production has also increased, from 51.5 per cent in 2019-20 to 55.3per cent in 2020-21.

“This is an outstanding result for the aquaculture sector which now directly employs more than 786 Queenslanders on a full-time basis.”

More than 8000 hectares in eight land parcels has been declared as Aquaculture Development Areas by the Queensland Government since 2019 to help create certainty for investors.

Major investments such as Tassal near Proserpine show the industry is backing Queensland.

Australia’s largest aquaculture company acquired the site in 2018 with plans to reportedly invest more than $30 million through the rehabilitation and development of the prawn farm with local suppliers and contractors a key focus for the company.

The most valuable aquaculture sectors continue to be prawn and barramundi respectively, with each recording an increase in production tonnes and value last financial year, according to the latest statistical analysis.

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Prawn production went up by 28.1 per cent, from 6245.2 tonnes in 2019-20 to 8002.7 tonnes in 2020-21, while barramundi production grew by 19.7 per cent with 3477.9 tonnes sold compared with 2904.4 tonnes the previous year.

Mr Furner reaffirmed the Palaszczuk Government’s ongoing support for the aquaculture industry which continues to trend upwards.

“We have supported growth in aquaculture in this state with the express purpose of growing jobs, and that’s exactly what has happened.

“The overall value of the industry has been increasing at an average rate of 6.6% per annum since 1999-2000, with the long-term production average showing annual growth of 7.1%,” he said.

“We will be working with the sector this year to further enhance production, reduce red tape and grow the socio-economic benefits from aquaculture in Queensland.”