Why Australia Should Farm More Whitefish

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“Despite huge consumer demand, Australian whitefish produced through aquaculture has not reached the same levels as salmon. The current industry is considerably smaller, with around 11,000 tonnes produced per to Tasmanian Atlantic salmon with approximately 70,000 tonnes. However, the small size of the industry does not reflect consumer demand. Our current demand for white fish far exceeds production. Of the 150,000 tonnes consumed each year in Australia, more than 50% is imported”, note Polly Hilder and Curtis Lind.

“Because of this large and growing demand, there is a huge opportunity for a strong, national whitefish aquaculture industry in our country,” they add.

The authors point out that the Australian Government’s National Aquaculture Strategy aims to double the current value of the sector to $2 billion per year by 2027, while the Australian Government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) has provided over $30 million to support barramundi aquaculture in the Northern Territory.

In May 2022, they note, another major barramundi producer announced that it had received a $30 million government grant to invest in the development of a state-of-the-art indoor aquaculture facility. Meanwhile, Murray Cod Australia has raised $30 million in 2021 to support the growth of its Murray cod aquaculture business in interior New South Wales.

“Barramundi is the success story of Australian farmed whitefish. It comfortably leads the sector’s production totals. However, emerging industries including yellowtail amberjack, grouper, Murray cod and cobia also contribute to the diversity of Australia’s product mix,” they write.

And CSIRO thinks pompano “could play an important role in the future mix of Australian whitefish aquaculture”.

The organization’s research on the pompano aims “to build a model of sustainable agriculture focused on biology, the circular economy, well-being, production systems, food, breeding and the demand of consumers. It is expected that targeted research in these critical areas of aquaculture will provide insights and strengthen the industry as a whole.”

“Our motivation is that in the near future, any day of the week, you will be able to walk into a supermarket and be presented with a fantastic choice of Australian produced whitefish that you want to eat. Knowing that you are supporting Australian farmers, the environment and ensuring future food security,” conclude Hilder and Lind.

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