The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) report on Australian fisheries shows the value of aquaculture production increased by 8 per cent in 2007-08.
“Aquaculture presents great opportunities for Australian fisheries to be part of the solution to world food security, particularly with the pressures on wildcatch fisheries,” Mr Burke said.
“Australian aquaculture was worth $868 million in 2007-08, that’s about 40 per cent of the gross value of Australia’s fisheries production.”
Increases in aquaculture production contrast with an overall decline in production and value of wildcatch fish, with Australia becoming a net importer of fisheries products in value terms.
“The fisheries sector faces a number of challenges – the appreciation of the Australian dollar, declining export volumes and falling prices for export species such as rock lobster and prawns all contributed to Australia becoming a net importer,” Mr Burke said.
“Changing the way we manage our fish populations, including a greater role for aquaculture, will help to meet these challenges.
“Last year in Tasmania for example, aquaculture production was more than six times the production a decade earlier in 1997-98.
“This means new opportunities for jobs – about one-third of people in the fishing industry are employed in aquaculture, including a rising number of indigenous aquaculture enterprises.
“At the Australasian Aquaculture conference last year I spoke about the need for research and development to boost productivity in our fishing industries.
“The Rudd Government continues to support R&D through the Fisheries Research Program and funding to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the Australian Seafood CRC.
“We have also committed funding through Promoting Australian Produce to a number of fisheries projects – aimed at developing capacity to market produce more effectively both in Australia and overseas.”