The accelerator, which would be based at James Cook University‘s Douglas campus, aims to combine the university’s expertise in aquaculture research and commercialisation with industry partners and world-leading, fit-for-purpose facilities.

According to the university, the accelerator will support $2.6 billion in gross regional product and create more than 11,000 jobs by 2035.

JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said that she is delighted by LNP Leader Deb Frecklington’s election commitment, which was announced last week, noting that it could kickstart the expansion of Northern Australia’s aquaculture industry.

Professor Harding said: “This shovel-ready project is critically important to the future growth of northern Queensland’s aquaculture industry. This commitment means we can develop aquaculture as an industry in northern Queensland, as previous generations did with beef, by working with industry and investing in research, training and infrastructure to support rapid and sustainable growth of the industry.”

The funds have been pledged to build the accelerator, but JCU expects to contribute $630 million in operating and other costs over 30 years, with the aquaculture industry also expected to contribute.

Professor Andrew Krockenberger, dean of research at James Cook University, said aquaculture production in northern Australia is forecast to increase five-fold within a decade and deliver a $1.34 billion per annum export industry, creating thousands of jobs.

He said: “The accelerator will provide opportunities for industry co-location, state-of-the-art life support systems, wet and dry laboratories, specialist technologies in analysis and quality control, and training facilities and industry liaison that will provide the R&D required to enable the aquaculture industry to reach its potential in northern Australia.

“JCU has a strong track record of partnerships with the aquaculture industry. We’ve helped Seafarms Group, with farms in Cardwell, Lucinda and Flying Fish Point, improve their broodstock with the world’s first genomic assisted breeding programme for tiger prawns.

“R&D work in partnership with Pacific Bio Australia (owners of Pacific Reef Fisheries in Ayr) led to the first on-farm demonstration facility enabling zero-net-waste prawn farming.

“Collaborative research with JCU has helped Mainstream Aquaculture build the world’s most advanced breeding program for barramundi, assisting their impressive company growth to become the largest supplier of barramundi fingerlings in the world, and we’re working with The Company One to develop vaccines for commercially relevant diseases, and nutrition for their grouper production in Cairns.”

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