Tripling Australia's aquaculture production to $2.5 billion and creating 29,000 new jobs by 2010 are the cornerstones of the Federal Government's Aquaculture Industry Action Agenda.
Making the announcement, Federal Fisheries Minister Senator Ian Macdonald, and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, said that aquaculture is one of Australia's fastest growing primary industries, both in terms of production capacity and in finding new markets, and it is the economic mainstay of many communities.
Initiatives under the Action Agenda include a national policy statement, developing a more efficient regulatory environment, improving animal health standards, and a greater focus on R&D and training.
"Aquaculture in Australia is currently worth approximately $746 million and employs around 7,000 people, mostly in regional areas, " Senator Macdonald said.
"The expansion, which is expected to take place as a result of the Action Agenda will provide these communities with significant spin-offs, including better educational and social services, improved infrastructure, better employment opportunities and new investment," he said.
Mr Macfarlane said we now have 29 Action Agendas up and running across the spectrum of Australian industry. They are a proven method of helping industry sectors set ambitious but attainable goals, but success very much depends on industry members taking ownership of their future.
"The result will be a more efficient, innovative, sustainable, competitive and forward-looking industry able to attract new investment and find new markets," he said.
"The Howard Government is committed to giving Australian industry every opportunity to grow by providing a supportive macro-economic environment of low interest rates, increasing company profits and sensible workplace relations reform."
Senator Macdonald said aquaculture's strong, recent growth highlights the dramatic shift from using wild fisheries to the only sustainable alternative - the farmed product.
The Ministers thanked the National Aquaculture Development Committee for its contribution in ensuring the Action Agenda builds on aquaculture's considerable achievements of the past decade.
The initiatives will be undertaken over four years.