Aquaculture going strong in clean SA waters

South Australia’s world-renowned aquaculture sector continues to grow, with latest official figures showing it’s now worth more than $242 million to the State’s economy.

The annual independent Economic Impact of Aquaculture on the South Australian State and Regional Economies for 2011-12 report shows the value of aquaculture production grew by 11 per cent on the 2010-11 financial year, up more than $23 million.

The growth was driven by an increase in production volumes, with Southern Bluefin Tuna leading the growth thanks to tonnage harvested up by 22 per cent on the previous year, along with oysters marking an 18 per cent growth in yield over the same period.

Minister for Fisheries Gail Gago said with the national seafood industry’s focus this week being on South Australia and Port Lincoln with the Seafood Directions 2013 conference, the latest figures further emphasised the importance the industry plays in regional areas.

“Aquaculture accounts for more than half of the state’s seafood production, and its continued growth over the past 10 years is testament to the bright future of this innovative industry,” Ms Gago said.

“The sector oversees some of the best and most sustainably-managed fisheries in the world, and directly employs more than 1140 full time jobs, and 1500 flow-on jobs on top of that.

“About 65 per cent of these jobs are in regional South Australia, predominantly in the Eyre Peninsula region, meaning aquaculture truly is one of the great success stories of regional employment and innovation.”

Prized Southern Bluefin Tuna makes up 62 per cent of total value of aquaculture production, followed by oysters (18 per cent), algae, finfish, mussels, abalone and crustaceans.

Minister Gago said the results reflected the importance of the State Government’s Premium Food and Wine from our Clean Environment strategic priority, and the international appeal of South Australia’s clean and sustainably-sourced seafood.

“With so much of SA’s seafood market driven by exports, it’s important to note the aquaculture sector grew in 2011-12 despite a very strong Australian dollar, demonstrating the market appeal of our premium, safe seafood products,” Ms Gago said.

“Markets will pay for a premium quality product, but it’s not just the lucrative export markets that are opening up revenue for the sector.

“For the first time, the 2011-12 survey also shows how our aquaculture entrepreneurs continue to innovate with aquaculture-related tourism attracting about 12,000 tourists who took the chance to swim with Southern Bluefin Tuna in their pens – and that number is expected to grow by more than 50 per cent by 2015.

“Of course another bonus for our aquaculture industry is the recent decision by the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna to increase the tuna catch quota over the next four years to 5,151 tonnes, an increase in 453 tonnes on the previous year.

“This is significant given the South Australian purse seine fishery, based out of Port Lincoln, harvests most of the Australian quota.”

The state’s aquaculture innovation will be on show when the world’s producers gather in Adelaide on 7-11 June 2014 for the World Aquaculture Conference and Trade Show.

“This is the first time since 1999 that Australia has hosted the international conference, and given the many advances made in that time we are proud to show the world what an amazing industry our aquaculture operators have created,” Ms Gago said.

PIRSA is a major sponsor for World Aquaculture Adelaide 2014. More information on the conference can be found at www.aquaculture.org.au

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Posted in Media 2013