A bet­ter go for fish farm­ers

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Angelique Pat­ter­son

THE Queens­land gov­ern­ment is mak­ing a move to slash red tape stunt­ing the growth of small busi­nesses in the aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try, busi­nesses like Daintree Salt­wa­ter Bar­ra­mundi.

With only 11 per cent of the na­tion’s aqua­cul­ture pro­duc­tion oc­cur­ring in Queens­land and with a recog­nised po­ten­tial for growth, the gov­ern­ment has en­listed the Queens­land Com­pe­ti­tion Au­thor­ity to iden­tify reg­u­la­tory re­forms to boost growth in the lo­cal in­dus­try.

Slash­ing red tape will pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to di­ver­sify and ex­pand the lo­cal in­dus­try, which has been wel­comed by Daintree Salt­wa­ter Bar­ra­mundi Farm owner and man­ager Mark Hober.

‘‘It’s a pos­i­tive thing for the whole in­dus­try, whether it’s ex­pan­sion or day to day run­ning of the farm - poli­cies need to be made eas­ier as they are cost­ing us money and putting a strain on all busi­ness,’’ he said.

‘‘There are also other en­vi­ron­men­tal pa­ram­e­ters, they have us bot­tle-necked with con­straints on our busi­nesses with fees we have to pay.

‘‘Queens­land is an ideal state to grow the aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try. Ob­vi­ously we have got the best wa­ter in the world, look at us right be­side the river, we have a good wa­ter pump and a good tech­nique in treat­ing wa­ter be­fore re­leas­ing it into the en­vi­ron­ment.’’

Mr Hober said al­though they are a sus­tain­able in­dus­try, slash­ing red tape will help them be­come a vi­able in­dus­try and en­able growth for small busi­nesses.

‘‘Smaller farms need to get big­ger for economies of scale but they haven’t been al­lowed to be­cause of bu­reau­cracy and red tape, so if we cut all that, small farms can get big­ger and pro­vide more pro­duce for do­mes­tic needs,’’ he said.

‘‘Cur­rently we im­port more farm prod­ucts than we can pro­duce, so it’s up to the peo­ple if they would rather eat im­ported prod­uct or some­thing lo­cally grown in our back­yard.

‘‘I’m a small farm that could cer­tainly dou­ble or triple and be­come very vi­able and look af­ter the needs of Aus­tralia, we have three hectares of pro­duc­tion on a land mass of 49 hectares, so we have plenty of room for ex­pan­sion that will not im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment. CSIRO has done stud­ies on the Reef and fish farms in gen­eral do not cause any dam­age, it’s a well proven fact there is no en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts by aqua farm­ers.’’

The QCA will consult with stake­hold­ers and gov­ern­ment, and ex­am­ine how other state reg­u­late their in­dus­tries and con­sider in­tro­duc­ing a sin­gle Act to reg­u­late the in­dus­try like South Aus­tralia and en­sure there is a bal­ance of en­vi­ron­men­tal, biose­cu­rity and eco­nomic pri­or­ti­ties.

The in­quiry will com­mence in Novem­ber, for more in­for­ma­tion or to reg­is­ter your in­ter­est email aqua­cul­ture@ qca. org. au or go to www.qca.org.au

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