National Aquaculture Strategy

The Australian Government has committed to work with industry to develop a national aquaculture strategy.

The first step in fulfilling this commitment was developing the National Aquaculture Statement which was released by Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck at World Aquaculture Adelaide on 8 June 2014.

The national aquaculture strategy will be developed in consultation with stakeholders. If you would like to contribute to the development of the strategy, please contact the department at Aquaculture Strategy.

Terms of reference for the national aquaculture strategy

The volume of aquaculture production is increasing strongly in Australia, and globally an aquaculture revolution is occurring. In Australia, the volume of aquaculture production has increased at an average of around 11 per cent annually over the last 20 years and the value of production has also reached record levels.

In 2012–13 aquaculture accounted for 43 per cent of the gross value of Australia’s fisheries production, worth approximately $1 billion. Australia’s aquaculture industry is relatively small, by global comparison, accounting for less than one per cent of the estimated US$144 billion global value of aquaculture production in 2012. However, Australia’s strength is in producing safe, sustainable, high-quality and high-value products such as salmon, oysters, tuna and prawns.

Recognising the industry’s significant potential for further growth and development, the Australian Government has committed to work with industry to develop a national aquaculture strategy intended to aid the development of a profitable and sustainable aquaculture industry. The strategy will identify common priorities for both industry and government and actions that can be undertaken to achieve those priorities.

As a first step in fulfilling this commitment, the Australian Government worked with the National Aquaculture Council and state and Northern Territory governments to develop the National Aquaculture Statement. The statement articulates governments’ support for the growth of an efficient, innovative and sustainable domestic aquaculture industry and describes a series of commitments to support this goal. It also sets out a number of expectations of industry.

The Australian Government will now work closely with industry and its state and Northern Territory counterparts to develop the national aquaculture strategy.

The strategy will:

  • support and complement the National Aquaculture Statement
  • articulate a national vision and priorities for Australian aquaculture and describe, at a high level, what government and industry can do to support that vision
  • identify at a national level opportunities and challenges facing the Australian aquaculture industry, and how industry can overcome and capitalise on these
  • identify a number of agreed, achievable actions that should be undertaken by government and/or industry to support the growth of a strong, competitive, resilient, profitable and ecologically sustainable aquaculture industry.

Consultation

To help inform the development of the strategy, during the second half of 2015, the department invited a wide range of government, industry and community stakeholders to identify the priority areas of action required to enable the industry’s sustainable growth.

These consultations were a mixture of face-to-face and phone conferences.  A list of those who accepted invitations to participate is at Table 1. Interested members of the community were also invited to contribute to the development of the strategy by contacting the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

A number of consistent themes were identified by participants. These included:

  1. The overly complex and duplicative regulatory processes as well as the variation between licence and lease arrangements across jurisdictions, which impact on stakeholders’ ability to gain approvals for new or existing operations.

  2. The difficulty in accessing agricultural and veterinary chemicals for minor-uses due to the lack of sufficient demand and economic incentive for chemical and veterinary medicine producers to register products for aquaculture use in Australia.

  3. Concerns about the biosecurity risks associated with ballast water and biofouling, and to a lesser extent, from imported seafood products. For producers, maintaining water quality and disease free status are essential to the success of their operations.

  4. Concerns about the poor understanding within the community of the Australian aquaculture industry and its environmental credentials. Furthermore, many aquaculture operators often feel wrongly judged as ‘unsustainable’ because of poor practices overseas, despite requirements to comply with world standard environmental regulations and many operators going further by seeking third-party accreditation such as Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification.

  5. The lack of high quality infrastructure in regional or remote areas, including roads, ports, electricity and freight logistics. The seafood industry relies on getting fresh product to markets quickly, and for international markets, harvesting and freezing product as quickly as possible before export.

  6. The lack of a clear regulatory framework for undertaking aquaculture in Commonwealth waters. Industry is increasingly interested in undertaking aquaculture in Commonwealth waters and has a preference for a framework that is streamlined and avoids additional regulation.

  7. Difficulties in gaining domestic and international market access, which included achieving the necessary scale of operation, putting in place the required logistics to get products to markets, maintaining quality of product and developing a recognised brand name. Stakeholders often recognised vertical integration as a successful business model for improving market access and protecting brand image.

  8. Placing a greater focus on extension as part of the research, development and extension framework, which is seen as the missing link in the implementation and adoption of innovation and new technology on farm.

Table 1: National Aquaculture Strategy consultation participants

Over 100 stakeholders were invited to participate in consultation and interested individuals or organisations were also invited to participate via the department’s website. Below is a list of industry, government and other stakeholders who participated in either face-to-face meetings or phone calls.

Organisation

Category

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Australian Government

Fisheries Research and Development Corporation

Australian Government

Austrade

Australian Government

New South Wales Department of Primary Industries

State/ NT government

Northern Territory Department of Industry and Fisheries

State/ NT government

Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

State/ NT government

South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions

State/ NT government

Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment

State/ NT government

Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries

State/ NT government

Western Australian Department of Fisheries

State/ NT government

Indigenous Reference Group

Indigenous Committee

Torres Strait Regional Authority

Indigenous regulator

National Aquaculture Council (NAC)

Industry body

Oysters Australia

Industry body

Australian Abalone Growers Association

Industry body

Australian Mussel Industry Association

Industry body

Australian Prawn Farmer’s Industry Association

Industry body

Australian Barramundi Farmer’s Association

Industry body

Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association

Industry body

Tasmanian Salmon Growers Association

Industry body

Pearl Producers Australia

Industry body

Pet Industry Association of Australia

Industry body

NT Seafood Council

Industry body

South Australian Aquaculture Council

Industry body

Tasmanian Seafood Industry Association

Industry body

Tasmanian Aquaculture Council

Industry body

Aquaculture Council of WA

Industry body

Seafood Industry Victoria

Industry body

South Australian Oyster Growers

Industry body

Oysters Tasmania

Industry body

Tasmanian Abalone Growers Association

Industry body

CSIRO

Research body

South Australian Research Development Institute

Research Body

Darwin Aquaculture Centre

Research Body

Challenger Institute of Technology

Research Body

Tony’s Tuna

Aquaculture operator - tuna

Sarin Marine Farm

Aquaculture operator - tuna

Kinkawooka Mussels

Aquaculture operator - mussels

Spring Bay Seafoods

Aquaculture operator - mussels

Tassal

Aquaculture operator - salmon

Huon

Aquaculture operator - salmon

Petuna

Aquaculture operator - salmon

Paspaley

Aquaculture operator - pearls

Tasmanian Seafoods

Aquaculture operator – sea cucumber

Humpty Doo Barramundi

Aquaculture operator – barramundi

Sealord Kingreef Barramundi

Aquaculture operator – barramundi

Cleanseas/ Hiramasa kingfish

Aquaculture operator – king fish

Indian Ocean Fresh /Geraldton Latitude Fisheries

Aquaculture operator – king fish

Pacific Reef Fisheries

Aquaculture operator – prawns

Gold Coast Marine

Aquaculture operator – prawns

Australian Prawn Farms

Aquaculture operator – prawns

Seafarms /Project Sea Dragon

Aquaculture operator – prawns

McAsh Oysters

Aquaculture operator – oysters

Aquarium Industries Pty Ltd

Aquaculture operator – aquarium

Sydney Fish Markets

Aquaculture wholesaler

Skretting Australia

Aquaculture feed supplier

Aquaculture Stewardship Council

Third party certifier

Oceanwatch Australia

eNGO

WWF Australia

eNGO

The Nature Conservancy

eNGO

Funding

The national aquaculture strategy will identify priority actions that both government and industry can undertake to support the sustainable growth of the Australian aquaculture industry.

Actions identified by the strategy may not necessarily require new funding to implement. However, should a particular action or aspects of the strategy require new resources, the strategy should identify the need to attract funding and in-kind contributions (from industry and/or government).