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Anti-aquaculture worries fishermen

Science showed aquaculture was the most productive agriculture system, and a sustainable sector.
Science showed aquaculture was the most productive agriculture system, and a sustainable sector.

AUSTRALIA'S fisheries need to move away from wild catches towards farmed aquaculture, but prawn fisherman were concerned there was no motivation to do so, a parliamentary inquiry in Townsville heard on Tuesday.

A House of Representatives inquiry is under way into the role science can play in helping Australia's commercial fishing industry stay sustainable but still be able to feed growing domestic demand for seafood.

The committee heard from the Australia Prawn Farmers Association and the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences among other witnesses on Tuesday.

In the AIMS submission to the inquiry, chief executive John Gunn wrote that due to the rapidly increasing demand for seafood globally, and Australia's dependence on imported seafood supplying 70% of demand, a "step change" was needed to enable an Australian aquaculture industry.

An AIMS representative told the inquiry on Tuesday that if the industry was to remain sustainable, and grow, it was simply not possible to harvest Australia's wild fish stocks much more intensively, and farming fish was the only viable solution.

That position was reinforced by APFA president Alistair Dick, who told the inquiry Australian's want more Australian prawns, but "we can't produce enough".

He said every aquaculture proposal in Queensland had to go through both state and federal approval processes and that no aquaculture proposal in the Sunshine State had ever passed the federal environmental approvals process.

Mr Dick said while science showed aquaculture was the most productive agriculture system, and a sustainable sector, he felt some government officials had an anti-aquaculture position.

The committee's final report considering all submissions and hearings was expected to be tabled in parliament before the end of the year.


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