Australia: Industry poised for rapid growth Published: 11 July, 2006
AQUACULTURE is poised for rapid growth and is set to challenge for the title of South Australia’s fastest growing industry over the next decade, according to Adelaide-based newspaper The Advertiser.
SA Aquaculture Council chairman Bruce Zippel believes the state’s aquaculture sector could easily become a $1 billion industry in the foreseeable future. A survey of industry leaders and organisations indicates the value of aquaculture in SA is likely to jump from $265.5 million in 2006 to between $720.5 million and $820.5 million in 2016. It is based on tuna increasing in value to $400m-$500m, finfish to $200m, abalone $60m and oysters to about $50m.
When the industry projected its value out to 2013 a couple of years ago, Mr Zippel said the forecast was for a $650 million industry. Events have changed considerably since then with a slump in the tuna farming industry in the past two years pushing its value from $266 million in 2002-03 down to $140 million in 2004-05.
The latest report on The Economic Impact of Aquaculture on the SA State and Regional Economies shows the total aquaculture sector’s farmgate value was only $187.8 million in 2004-05. But a strong recovery in tuna prices this year and rapid growth in coming years is expected to lift tuna production to between $400 million and $500 million by 2016.
If listed company Clean Seas Tuna is successful in breeding tuna, it has the potential to change everything and lead to even more dramatic growth.
“The aquaculture sector offers wonderful opportunities, but it is not for the faint-hearted,” Mr Zippel reportedly said.
He is among the industry’s pioneers, switching from land-based farming to oyster farming at Smoky Bay in the late 1980s. Since then he has seen the aquaculture sector provide a healthy recovery in regional economies, especially on Eyre Peninsula which comprises at least 70 per cent of the state’s industry. Primary Industries and Resources SA aquaculture executive director Ian Nightingale expects the growth to occur in a few key areas, particularly marine finfish and shellfish including scallops, abalone and mussels.
Meanwhile, Adelaide is gearing up to host a global conference on aquaculture next month. The conference will focus on business, marketing and investment.
“This is one of the largest aquaculture conferences held in the world,” said Mr Zippel. “It will focus on innovation in aquaculture and key issues. Moving from a grower focus to a market focus is difficult – it is one of the main challenges we have in SA.”
More than 1000 people from 30 countries are expected to attend the Skretting Australasian Aquaculture conference at the Adelaide Convention Centre from August 27 to 30. Speakers include Viggo Halseth, managing director of Skretting Trout and Marine Species in Norway and an expert on global trends. James Ryan, president of the International Salmon Farmers Association, will talk about offshore farming and James Rakocy of the University of Virgin Islands will explain aquaponics – the process of using fish waste for horticulture.
It has also been announced that tenders will be called for the construction of South Australia’s $25.8 million aquaculture research facility in October. The facility will create a research pool that aims to steer future growth in the industry.
Based around a $4.8 million expansion of the Lincoln Marine Science Centre, the Marine Innovation SA facility will bring industry, research and academia together.
The first major step – the establishment of the innovation facility’s biosecurity division – will be built around SARDI’s existing Aquatic Sciences Centre at West Beach.
The West Beach facility – currently housing research into finfish diets and water quality – will include the Southern Hemisphere’s most advanced containment facility. MISA will tap into research skills and personnel from Flinders and Adelaide universities, together with SARDI Aquaculture and the South Australian Museum. In turn, the universities will use the facility for undergraduate and post-graduate personnel.
Industry representatives – including the Australian Seafood Industry Council – will be on MISA’s steering committee as well as those relating to research priorities, education and training and infrastructure. Existing research will also have have broader application.
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