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August 3, 2015


Shrimp Farmers Stifled by Bureaucracy


Aquaculture may be booming around the world, but not in Australia, which only produces $80 million worth of shrimp a year, a small amount by international standards.  Queensland, the state on Australia’s northeast coast, produces 80 percent of the country’s farmed shrimp.


Shrimp farmer Nick Moore said Australian aquaculture—potentially worth billions of dollars—was being held back by over-regulation, claiming that the industry’s growth has been road-blocked for the past decade.


Last year, the Queensland Competition Authority put together a draft report that recommended changing some of the regulations that affected shrimp farming to create more growth and attract more investment, but the final report has not been released.  Queensland Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne said the State Government would release the report in due course, although he could not give a date.  He said, “I am an enthusiastic supporter of aquaculture, and as the Fisheries Minister, I want to support its development and expansion.  ...We want to ensure that we make the right decisions so that aquaculture can thrive and prosper in the future.”


That was not enough for Australian Prawn Farmers Association president Matt West.  He would like to see the report released immediately, and said there had still not been any indication of State Government support for the industry’s expansion, as far as he was aware.  “At the moment there’s still not much love on it at all,” he said.  “We’re really hoping that will change soon so that the relevant government organizations that are involved on the whole process can start streamlining themselves and working together.”


Nick Moore said the delay had created uncertainty in the industry.  He said, “We just can’t keep taking from the wild.  It’s not going to be there to take.  ...It’s the only way we’ll be able to feed the population of the planet.  Australia has the great opportunity to follow that, but it seems we’re the only country in the world where aquaculture isn’t the fastest growing industry, and that’s just wrong.  I just wish that somebody would realize if you’re going to grow food in this country, they’ve got to start helping what we do.”


Both West and Moore believed the perceived impact of nutrient and sediment run-off from shrimp farms could have on the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem was a major roadblock in any possible industry reforms.  However, Australian Prawn Farmers Association vice-president John Moloney said the industry was working towards implementing a Stewardship Action Plan, which would reduce runoff over the next five years.  “We’re going to work on various systems like our discharge water system, treatment systems and feed supplies, and we will monitor, track and report back on where we are headed towards that,” he said.  “We would like to operate our businesses with no impact whatsoever on the environment.”


Source: ABC Rural.  Prawn Farmers say Australia Aquaculture Industry Being Left Behind.  Lara Webster.  August 2, 2013.

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