Mackay leads state in growing aquaculture jobs

Published Thursday, 24 February, 2022 at 11:22 AM

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

The Mackay region has become the engine room of growth in Queensland’s aquaculture industry, with 270 jobs and production value skyrocketing.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said with more aquaculture jobs than any other region, the industry was reaping the benefits of Palaszczuk Government support.

“We did the work to create aquaculture development areas where industry could be confident to invest and now it is paying off,” Mrs Gilbert said.

“More than 4300 tonnes of seafood valued at $73.2 million was produced in the Mackay region last financial year, supporting 270 full time equivalent jobs.

“This industry still has a lot of upside in the Mackay region and plenty of great opportunities to come.”

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 Tassal near Proserpine, 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