Slimy success story: $1b opportunity for Coast sea ranchers
A SLIMY sea creature could not only create jobs on the Fraser Coast but help Queensland break into a $1.4 billion global industry.
Aquafarms Queensland in Hervey Bay has received State Government backing to boost its export of sea cucumbers to Asian markets, Innovation Minister Kate Jones said.
"Aquafarms Queensland has developed an innovative and sustainable solution that overcomes survival issues and production volumes of sea cucumbers currently affecting the aquaculture industry," Ms Jones said.
"Their world-first research and development will have a significant impact on the economic and environmental growth of the industry."
Company director David Williams said funding through the State Government's Ignite Ideas program would help the business grow the size of its hatchery, increasing production and export opportunities.
"We have overcome a major industry problem which has previously prevented successful commercial production of the sea cucumbers in sustainable quantities and quality," Mr Williams said.
"Our ethical and sustainable sea-ranching on the Fraser Coast is an opportunity to ignite a thriving farming and export industry and create local employment in the region."
Mr Williams said the Fraser Coast was once the biggest sea cucumber fishery in the world but overfishing had hit the resource.
He said Queensland had a great future in marine aquaculture and sustainable seafood production.
"By increasing the size of our hatchery, we can guarantee the Fraser Coast's supply of consistent export volumes of premium-quality sea cucumbers and sandfish which are highly prized by the Asian market," he said.
"We expect to employ five new employees in the next 12 months in hatchery production, project management and processing roles, including local indigenous people skilled in farming sea cucumbers.
"Off the back of our success, we want to support local indigenous people to develop their own sea ranch farming business, and there is business opportunities for oyster farms."
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the sea cucumber success story was an example of Queensland farmers embracing innovation.
"We all know how hard our farmers work, but they are creative as well and that is a big reason why our agricultural exports are a key pillar of the Queensland economy," Mr Furner said.