Townsville region home to more than 100 aquaculture jobs

Published Thursday, 24 February, 2022 at 11:08 AM

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

The Townsville region is home to more than 100 aquaculture jobs, with the sector growing rapidly.

Member for Mundingburra Les Walker said the Palaszczuk Government had created an environment where the industry was able to invest and create jobs.

“In our region the industry has grown to support 109 full time equivalent jobs, and seafood production grew to more than 1800 tonnes last financial year,” Mr Walker said.

“We have been a key part of the state’s growth in aquaculture jobs and the projects that are being established are exciting to say the least.

“This growth has a lot further to run and I’m excited to see what that will mean for jobs in the Townsville region.”

Minister for Resources and Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said there was even more opportunity for aquaculture to grow in the city.

“At the end of last year the government granted Ornatas freehold ownership of its world-first tropical lobster farm at Toomulla Beach,” Mr Stewart said.

“This pioneering project is already supporting local jobs and has the potential to create hundreds more in the future.

“There is huge potential in developing aquaculture in Townsville and this project from Ornatas shows it’s already happening.”

Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said aquaculture continued to add to the diversity of jobs and opportunities in Townsville.

“There are huge opportunities to grow the industry in Townsville and produce high quality seafood which can be exported around the world,” he said.

“That’s why as a government we are backing the aquaculture industry now and will continue to do so into the future.”

The Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to grow the aquaculture industry is paying dividends with another year of record growth for the fisheries sector.

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

“The total value of the Queensland aquaculture industry has increased by 17.4%, with the value of production rising to a record high of $193.5 million in 2020-21, up from $164.9 million the previous year,” Mr Furner said.

“Total aquaculture production increased by 24% from 9535.8 tonnes to 11824.6 tonnes and this was driven by the prawn and barramundi sectors.

“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.

“This is an outstanding result for the aquaculture sector which now directly employs more than 786 Queenslanders on a full-time basis.”

Since 2019 the Queensland Government has declared more than 8000 hectares in eight land parcels as Aquaculture Development Areas to help create certainty for investors.

Major investments by industry, including Ornatas near Townsville, show the industry is backing Queensland.

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has established an Aquaculture Industry Development Network to co-ordinate across departments and effectively support proponents through their investment process.

Mr Furner said the 9.5% 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.

According to the latest statistical analysis, the most valuable aquaculture sectors continue to be prawn and barramundi respectively, with each recording an increase in production tonnes and value last financial year.

Prawn production went up by 28.1%, from 6245.2 tonnes in 2019-20 to 8002.7 tonnes in 2020-21, while barramundi production grew by 19.7% with 3477.9 tonnes sold compared with 2904.4 tonnes the previous year.

Oyster production increased by 57% and production value rose to $700,000.

“This is a great opportunity for Queensland thanks to the wonderful work on oyster production being carried out at our Bribie Island Research Centre,” Mr Furner said.

Mr Furner reaffirmed the Palaszczuk Government’s ongoing support for the aquaculture industry which continues to trend upwards.

“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%,” he said.

“We will be working with the sector this year 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 value of the prawn sector increased by 17.6% to $146.6 million

• The barramundi sector grew in value by 23.2%

• Full-time equivalent employment in aquaculture increased by 9.5%

• The prawn sector is the largest employer, with 65.4% of the total labour force

• 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