Seafood Industry Australia’s (SIA) Aquaculture Advisory Committee (AAC) has welcomed the release of the Australian Government’s House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources inquiry report on the Australian aquaculture sector “Supporting a strong future for Australian aquaculture” released on February 9, 2022.
“On behalf of the AAC and the broader Australian seafood industry I would like to welcome the release of the inquiry’s report, endorse the report’s 15 recommendations and thank the Committee Chair, the Committee and the Secretariat for their time, hard work and most importantly, their support,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said.
“Australian aquaculture is a growing industry and has a strong positive outlook… [with] a reputation for producing premium product and further improvements will strengthen our market position,” Committee Chair Rick WIlson said. “An expanding Australian aquaculture sector will help meet domestic demand for seafood, boost exports and provide thousands of additional jobs, especially in regional areas.
“Aquaculture, like all industries, has its share of challenges and potential barriers to growth. The Committee has made a number of recommendations with the aim of overcoming these barriers.”
“Importantly, the Committee’s recommendations support SIA’s key positions around the legislated Country of Origin Labelling for seafood sold in food service, the establishment of a dedicated aquaculture unit within the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, strong biosecurity frameworks, streamlined jurisdiction regulations, and reinforced calls for Government support to improve aquaculture’s social licence by addressing consumer and community concerns,” Ms Papacosta said.
“Aquaculture is now the largest sector of the Australian seafood industry, accounting for 51 per cent of GVP. The sector is currently worth $1.6 billion nationally, and is forecast to grow both domestically and internationally, backing the sector’s growth towards the $100 billion Ag2030 goal. The AAC and SIA welcomes the Committee’s report as it marks an important step to delivering on that commitment.
“We applaud the report’s recommendations and support from the Government for our aquaculture sector who continue to set international benchmarks by providing fresh, high-quality, sustainable seafood year-round, while exceeding regulatory requirements. We look forward to working with the governments to further our world-leading sector.
“We’d like to acknowledge the hard work of the industry members and stakeholders including Tassal, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, the Australian Barramundi Farmers’ Association, and the Australian Prawn Farmers Association who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes and alongside the government throughout this enquiry.”
List of Recommendations
3.111 The Committee recommends that the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment work with aquaculture industry representatives to ensure that Australian producers have the assurance that the Department’s ongoing reviews of the Import Risk Analysis for imported non-salmonid fish species are appropriately rigorous and up-to-date.
3.112 The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government and the Fisheries Research Development Corporation strengthen their efforts to support Seafood Industry Australia and the aquaculture industry more broadly to improve community awareness of the ecological sustainability and safety of Australian aquaculture produce.
3.113 The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government work with the aquaculture industry, training providers and state and relevant Northern Territory government agencies to develop specialised training pathways and profession development programs to strengthen the aquaculture workforce.
3.114 The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government consider programs and incentives to encourage workers to take up regional aquaculture employment and to support the growth of the industry.
3.115 The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government consider the establishment of an aquaculture industry development fund to provide grants and loans to both established and emerging aquaculture ventures.
3.116 The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government review research and development funding for aquaculture through the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation to ensure that it meets the specific needs of the sector.
4.63 The Committee recommends that Food Standards Australia New Zealand consider mandating the use of the Australian Fish Names Standard under Food Standards Code Standard 2.2.3 for fish and fish products in Australia.
4.64 The Committee recommends that the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation work with barramundi industry groups to support an application to assign two standard names for Lates calcarifer under the Australian Fish Names Standard: ‘barramundi’ for fish grown or caught in Australia and ‘Asian sea bass’ for any imported products.
4.65 The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the states and territories, consider changes to the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016 to require labelling of imported seafood products in foodservice settings, such as restaurants, cafes and fish-and-chip shops, in line with current regulatory requirements in the Northern Territory.
5.73 The Committee recommends that the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, through the Australian Fisheries Management Forum, support state and Northern Territory government agencies to reduce duplication and streamline regulatory approval processes for aquaculture operations through the introduction of ‘one-stop-shop’ models of regulation management.
5.74 The Committee recommends that the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation provide greater assistance to state and Northern Territory governments, in conjunction with industry, to identify and establish further designated aquaculture zones. These zones should be: identified using scientific evidence and spatial planning to establish their suitability for aquaculture supported by streamlined regulatory approval processes for operators.
Recommendation 12 5.75 The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with state and Northern Territory governments, investigate further opportunities for expanding arrangements under the Offshore Constitutional Settlement to allow for aquaculture activities in Commonwealth waters.
5.76 The Committee recommends that the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority work with the Queensland Government to ensure that the current regulatory framework for industry nutrient and sediment emissions in the Great Barrier Reef catchment area reflects latest evidence about the outputs of aquaculture farms and is not unfairly impeding the aquaculture industry’s growth.
5.77 The Committee recommends that a specialist aquaculture unit is established within the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to support the ongoing implementation of the National Aquaculture Strategy.
5.78 The Committee recommends that the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment conduct a review of the priorities of the National Aquaculture Strategy to provide an update on progress in the five years since its implementation and ensure that its aims are being met.