A North Queensland barramundi farm will produce a million fish a year through an intensive fish nursery and support more than 20 new regional jobs with a funding boost from the Palaszczuk Government.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Mainstream Aquaculture was one of 14 businesses in Queensland to receive a Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant of up to $250,000 to fund the expansion of their business.
“Mainstream Aquaculture, at Mourilyan Harbour, is expanding to produce 3,000 tonne of 4kg barramundi fish a year, grow its workforce and develop a hub for production and processing to create maximum value to the Cassowary Coast region,” Mr Furner said.
“Known for its award-winning barramundi, the company was previously responsible for the largest intensive recirculating aquaculture system for barramundi in the world. The system underpins plans to build a nursery system to produce a million fish to be grown every year.
“The funding will be used for a project to design, construct and commission a bespoke intensive barramundi nursery system to produce a million high-quality juvenile barramundi, up to 70g or 140mm, to support the expansion of land-based pond grow-out farms three fold.
“The nursery system consists of two production trains with each capable of delivering 500,000 fish a year. The fish are held in optimum conditions under a quality feeding regime to be grown for 110 days.”
During this time the fish are graded every seven days to make sure they don’t eat each other.
The project will support eight new positions, eight during construction and another six indirect jobs. Direct jobs will be created in the nursery, delivering long-term employment in the local area, including a nursery manager, supervisors, technical staff and farm hands.
“We know the COVID-19 pandemic has made it tough for a lot of businesses and communities, so these additional jobs will be most welcome,” Mr Furner said.
Mainstream Aquaculture Queensland head of business Marty Phillips said the on-site nursery production system would grow juvenile fish from 0.2g to 70g under carefully controlled environmental conditions through the most high risk phase of their production, improving the survival, health, growth and supply of the fish stocked in the ponds for grow-out.
The fish will grow to up to 4kg in on-shore ponds.
“Central to this intensification and increase in production is the supply of robust, high quality and healthy juvenile fish to support pond-based production of harvested fish,” Mr Phillips said.
The Rural Economic Development (RED) Grants program offers emerging projects up to $250,000 in co-contributions to build industry and grow employment opportunities across the agricultural sector. The $10 million grants program provides for three funding rounds over a three-year period ending 2021.
A total of 14 businesses have received $3.34 million under the second round of funding for the RED Grants program. Overall these 14 projects are expected to create more than 600 jobs across the agricultural sector in regional Queensland.
The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) administer the RED Grant scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.