The QCA released its draft report on aquaculture regulation in Queensland on 22 July 2014. Stakeholders were invited to submit comments on this draft report by 1 September 2014.
The key findings of the draft report are as follows:
- Over the last decade, investment in Queensland's aquaculture sector appears to have stalled, with no major new entrants to the market and only a modest expansion of established projects. This situation compares unfavourably with industry growth in Australia and elsewhere.
- The QCA believes that Queensland's aquaculture sector has significant commercial potential. Despite the dearth of major new projects over the last ten years, the industry has still achieved compound annual growth of 4 per cent. Discussions with industry have confirmed strong interest in further development.
- Many industry participants claim that regulatory risk is a significant barrier to new investment. The regulatory approval process is protracted, with no certainty about outcomes.
- Our recommends include:
- that the government establish land-based aquaculture development areas as a way of ensuring a timely and transparent process for approvals.
- that each development area have a clear code for assessment of development applications, explaining the regulatory conditions for aquaculture in that area. Such a code should be developed in conjunction with local government, Queensland government agencies and Commonwealth government agencies.
- that the government defer consideration of the merits of a single legislative instrument for regulating aquaculture. This step can be considered once more practical regulatory reforms have been well established. The question of a single legislative instrument was raised by AREC, and the Direction specified that the QCA should investigate this issue.
- that the government investigate the potential for marine aquaculture development areas in less populated areas with a low possibility of conflict with other users of marine resources.
In addition to the draft report, this website includes a series of maps showing coastal areas with the right topographic profile for land-based aquaculture. These maps demonstrate only the first step in identifying suitable locations, as they do not incorporate consultation on local preferences for the location of aquaculture operations. The report notes the importance of local consultation in establishing suitable locations for the expansion of the aquaculture sector.