How FNQ has become state’s aquaculture powerhouse
FAR North Queensland's aquaculture industry has been valued at more than $50 million - but it is in danger of being affected by the coronavirus epidemic.
A report released yesterday by the State Government has estimated the Cairns region's fish farms to be worth $51.5 million last financial year.
FNQ has become the state's aquaculture powerhouse, producing nearly 3700 tonnes of stock per annum, over a total ponded area of 337.3 hectares and employing 227 full-time equivalent staff.
The next largest aquaculture production area is Townsville, which has been estimated to be worth $27.2 million, producing 1862 tonnes of stock last year.
Cassowary Coast-based Pejo Enterprises, which merged with Melbourne-based Mainstream Aquaculture in October 2018, will expand the number of aquaculture ponds at its Mourilyan farm from 13 to 58 and employ up to 25 more staff.
Pejo Enterprises head Marty Phillips said plans for the farm expansion were still progressing.
He was not surprised FNQ had the largest aquaculture production in the state.
"It's proven territory up here," he said.
"It's just that little bit warmer and the warmer area is more productive."
He said the industry did not appear to be affected by export bans, as a result of the coronavirus epidemic.
However, it was being impacted domestically by a general decline in seafood consumption.
"I'm getting feedback from our southern wholesalers that (coronavirus) is certainly having an impact on the restaurant trade," he said.
"It's that whole SARS issue, because there's less people going out, spending money, which is affecting the whole tourism sector."
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said the total value of the Queensland aquaculture industry was expected to increase further in the coming years.