Fish farming jobs frenzy: sun shines on Queensland aquaculture

Published Thursday, 24 February, 2022 at 10:53 AM


Premier and Minister for the Olympics
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities
The Honourable Mark Furner

Queensland’s booming aquaculture industry continues to go from strength to strength with a new report showing record growth for the fisheries sector.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government’s commitment and support to growing the industry is paying dividends and creating regional jobs.

“In the last three years, we’ve have declared more than 8000 hectares in eight land parcels as Aquaculture Development Areas to help create certainty for investors.

“We are backing this industry and the industry is backing Queensland, with major investments by Tassal near Proserpine and Ornatas near Townsville, while we continue to see businesses like Gold Coast Tiger Prawns growing and employing more Queenslanders.

“Through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries we have established an Aquaculture Industry Development Network to co-ordinate across departments and effectively support proponents through their investment process.

“As these projects continue to grow they will employ hundreds more Queenslanders in our regions, and help to feed Australia’s insatiable appetite for Queensland seafood.

“What this new report shows is that in just the last year, the industry has increased by more than 17 per cent, with the value of production rising to a record high of $193.5 million, up from $164.9 million the previous year.

“That means Queensland’s aquaculture businesses are producing more prawns, more barramundi and most importantly more jobs than they were a year ago.

“There has also been another 9.5 per cent increase in full time equivalent jobs in the sector which means more jobs on the Gold Coast, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns regions.”

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner released the annual Aquaculture Production Summary for Queensland which shows the industry which employs more than 786 Queenslanders going from strength to strength.

“The most valuable aquaculture sectors continue to be prawn and barramundi with total aquaculture production increasing 24 per cent from 9535.8 tonnes to 11824.6 tonnes,” he said.

“Prawn production went up by 28 per cent, from 6245.2 tonnes in 2019-20 to 8002.7 tonnes in 2020-21, while barramundi production grew by nearly 20 per cent with 3477.9 tonnes sold compared with 2904.4 tonnes the previous year.

“Oyster production increased by 57 per cent and production value rose to $700,000 thanks in part to the wonderful work on oyster production being carried out at our Bribie Island Research Centre”.

“The relative importance of aquaculture to Queensland’s total fisheries production has also increased, from 51.5% in 2019-20 to 55.3% in 2020-21.

Minister Furner said the 9.5 per cent rise in employment in the aquaculture industry was another important contributor to Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.

“We have supported growth in aquaculture in this state with the express purpose of growing jobs, and that’s exactly what has happened,” he said.

“The overall value of the industry has been increasing at an average rate of 6.6% per annum since 1999-2000, with the long-term production average showing annual growth of 7.1%.

“We will continue to work with the sector to further enhance production, reduce red tape and grow the socio-economic benefits from aquaculture in Queensland.”

Other key data from the report indicates:

  • The barramundi sector grew in value by 23.2% to $34.9 million.
  • The value of the prawn sector increased by 17.6% to $146.6 million
  • The prawn sector is the largest employer, with 65.4% of the total labour force
  • Full-time equivalent employment in aquaculture increased by 9.5%
  • Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Gold Coast statistical divisions continue to account for the majority of the industry value and production.

The 2020-21 Aquaculture Production Summary for Queensland is available online at


Media contact:         

Ron Goodman             0427 781 920