‘Strong support’ recommended for Australia’s aquaculture sector

‘Strong support’ recommended for Australia’s aquaculture sector

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.” 

<ENDS> A copy of the Committee’s report can be found here

List  of Recommendations 

Recommendation 1 

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. 

Recommendation 2 

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. 

Recommendation 3 

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. 

Recommendation 4 

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.

Recommendation 5 

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. 

Recommendation 6 

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. 

Recommendation 7 

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. 

Recommendation 8 

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. 

Recommendation 9 

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.

Recommendation 10 

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.   

Recommendation 11 

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. 

Recommendation 13 

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. 

Recommendation 14 

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. 

Recommendation 15 

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.