Aquaculture export can accelerate the North

Following the Member for Herbert’s $4.9 million grant towards aquaculture research at James Cook University, now is the time to leverage the global opportunities this industry can create by also confirming the remaining City Deal funding for Townsville’s Tropical Aquaculture Accelerator project.

The Tropical Aquaculture Accelerator would be based at the James Cook University Douglas Campus and would be a landmark industry-facing initiative with state-of-the art life support systems for aquaculture research and development; wet and dry laboratories and aqua-sheds; training facilities (pilot-scale hatchery); specialist technologies (analysis and quality control); and industry co-location.

Funding towards the Aquaculture Accelerator project has been a part of Townsville Enterprise’s State and Federal Government advocacy platform for a number of years, along with two other projects also indicated but not confirmed for a share of the City Deal funding – the Lansdown Eco Industrial Precinct and the Townsville Concert Hall.

Initial analysis estimates that a $67 million investment to establish the Tropical Aquaculture Accelerator would create 360 local construction jobs and $2.6 billion in ongoing economic activity by 2035.

Townsville Enterprise CEO Claudia Brumme-Smith said the project would ensure Northern Australia could continue to enjoy its leadership advantage in aquaculture, at a time when global demand is about to soar.

“Food security and the rapidly growing demand for high quality seafood protein are two significant challenges across the globe,” Ms Brumme-Smith said.

“Growing at its current rate, aquaculture is set to be Australia’s second largest agrifood export by 2050 and worth $12.8 billion. Our airport and port can play a meaningful role in answering the call to deliver on this demand.

“Australian aquaculture production systems must be able to deliver high-quality, consistent volumes of produce, operate with minimal environmental impact, and use sustainable raw feed materials.

“Industry has stressed that the aquaculture industry needs innovation if it is to reach its full potential. Townsville is the perfect location to leverage tropical marine science, engineering, and industry skills to address research priorities.

“We acknowledge Phil Thompson’s appreciation of the opportunities this sector can create and the important role aquaculture can play in the development of Northern Australia.”

James Cook University Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding AO welcomed the Federal Government’s intention to provide funding towards the project.

“The Tropical Aquaculture Accelerator will kickstart the expansion of Northern Australia’s aquaculture industry.

“This project is critically important to the future growth of northern Queensland’s aquaculture industry.

“It will allow us to develop aquaculture as an industry in northern Queensland as previous generations did with beef, by working with industry and investing in research, training and infrastructure to support rapid and sustainable growth of the industry,” Professor Harding said.

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