Aquaculture makes towns happy, rich

A new study found three in four coastal visitors say eating local seafood is an important part of their coastal holiday experience.
A new study found three in four coastal visitors say eating local seafood is an important part of their coastal holiday experience.

There are social, as well as economic, benefits for regional towns with a strong aquaculture industry.

University of Technology Sydney (UTS) associate professor Kate Barclay has found aquaculture was an important driver of community well being.

Dr Barclay said aquaculture in regional NSW was worth more the $226 million and provided 1750 full-time jobs.

Understanding the role played by farming oysters, prawns and fish in the social and economic lives of our coastal communities is vital

Kate Barclay

“Understanding the role played by farming oysters, prawns and fish in the social and economic lives of our coastal communities was vital,” said Dr Barclay.

Dr Barclay assembled a team to determine how communities benefited from both traditional aquaculture and new and emerging ventures.

Her team found that local tourism and a vibrant aquaculture industry were mutually beneficial.

Fresh, local seafood and healthy waterways were strong draw-cards for tourists: three in four coastal visitors said eating local seafood was an important part of their coastal holiday experience.

Dr Barclay said that aquaculturists were drivers of environmental management; as they relied on clean water for their businesses, they pushed councils to maintain and improve water quality.

The aquaculture industry was an important employer of young people and others seeking entry-level jobs in their communities. Historically the oyster industry had been a great source of employment for Aboriginal people

The NSW Department of Primary Industries deputy director general fisheries Dr Geoff Allan said the research showed the need to consider aquaculture in a broad context.

“We need to think differently about how we assess the NSW aquaculture industry,” Dr Allan said.

“It contributes more than just the ‘farm gate’ value of production.

“Aquaculture contributes to community well-being through local employment, responsible management of the waterways, supporting the tourism industry, and provision of sustainable seafood,” he said.