Aquaculture responsible for almost 200 jobs in Cairns region

Published Thursday, 24 February, 2022 at 11:15 AM

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

The Palaszczuk Government’s support for aquaculture has paid off with the industry now responsible for 191 full time equivalent jobs in the Cairns region

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said Far North Queensland was a great place to grow quality Queensland seafood and investors had voted with their feet.

“With the Palaszczuk Government supporting the industry all the way, it is exciting to see almost 200 jobs have been created in the wider Cairns region,” Mr Healy said.

“We are getting on with Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan and job creation like this shows we are on the right track.

“The Cairns region has seen more than 3600 tonnes of seafood produced in 2020/21, with a production value of $54.2m.

“That’s a great result and I’m sure this industry will grow even more jobs into the future.”

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. Mr Furner said “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 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