World-first seafood venture to create 1000 jobs

 

THE world's first land-based lobster farm is set to be established in Townsville in the next decade, opening up the region to a $500 million industry.

Tasmania-based aquaculture company Ornatas has picked a site at Toomulla Beach to set up a scientifically groundbreaking lobster farm.

According to the State Government, the development would open North Queensland to a $500 million tropical lobster industry and has the potential of creating 1000 direct and indirect jobs.

It is understood an aquaculture site already exists at the location north of Townsville with certain approvals already in place.

Ornatas chief executive Scott Parkinson said the company planned to initially use the site to produce about 150 tonnes of Moreton Bay bugs over the next five years.

"At the same time, we're working with a number of partners to design a pilot commercial hatchery in Tasmania, where tropical rock lobsters will be bred," he said.

"The baby lobsters will then be transported to the site here at Toomulla Beach to grow to a marketable size, before they're then harvested and sold to premium seafood markets in Australia and Asia."

It is understood the development of new technology and science has meant lobsters, which are usually caught in the wild, can now be grown in farms like the one proposed by Ornatas.

Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said a strong aquaculture sector and promoting a sustainable commercial fishing industry would help wean Queensland of its dependence on imported seafood.

"My goal is to make Queensland the aquaculture capital of the world, because that will create even more jobs in our regions," he said.

"And now being home to the world's first sustainable tropical rock lobster land-based growout facility shows we're well on our way to meeting this commitment."

 

Australian Senator Mark Furner with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during a parliamentary visit to Townsville. PICTURE: Matt Taylor.
Australian Senator Mark Furner with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during a parliamentary visit to Townsville. PICTURE: Matt Taylor.

 

Mr Furner met with Ornatas' Mr Parkinson at the company's hatchery in Tasmania on August 1.

Mr Parkinson has previously said the State Government had been "instrumental" in helping Ornatas find the Toomulla Beach site.

Townsville MP Scott Stewart said the facility would also help meet growing demand for lobsters and take pressure off wild populations of the sought after crustacean.

Aquaculture has been a major focus of the State Government. Last month leading seafood producer Tassal announced it had purchased a 7000 hectare beef property near Proserpine with plans to transform into a major aquaculture facility.