A WORLD first tropical rock lobster farm will be established in North Queensland with the premium product set for markets in Australia and Asia.
Australian Aquaculture Company Ornatas are planning to establish a land based farm north of Townsville at Toomulla Beach to commercially grow and harvest the crustacean.
Ornatas CEO Scott Parkinson said the facility would initially be used to produce Queensland's iconic Moreton Bay Bugs.
"The plan is to produce about 150-tonnes of this delicacy over the next five years to sell to local restaurants and retailers," Mr Parkinson said.
"At the same time, we're working with a number of partners to design a pilot commercial hatchery in Tasmania, where tropical rock lobsters will be bred.
"The baby lobsters will then be transported to the site here at Toomulla Beach to grow to a marketable size, before they're then harvested and sold to premium seafood markets in Australia and Asia.
The State Government is supporting the project, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk saying it would create a job bonanza in the region.
Ms Palaszczuk said the announcement put North Queensland in prime position to create a $500 million tropical rock lobster industry over the next ten years, creating up to 1000 new jobs.
"Until now, these lobsters have only been able to be caught in the wild," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"But cutting-edge science has allowed the development of technology for production on this site."
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said the development was another sign of the strength of Queensland's aquaculture industry.
"My goal is to make Queensland the aquaculture capital of the world, because that will create even more jobs in our regions," Mr Furner said.
"And now being home to the world's first sustainable tropical rock lobster land-based growout facility shows we're well on our way to meeting this commitment.
"Over half the seafood we eat in Queensland is imported and I want to change that.
"Having a strong aquaculture sector and a sustainable commercial fishing industry will mean more fresh, tasty Queensland seafood on tables around Australia and across the world."
Townsville MP Scott Stewart said this development would create jobs in regional Queensland.
"Lobster is one of the most popular and treasured seafoods of all, especially in Asia," Mr Stewart said.
"This facility and the jobs it provides will help meet this growing demand and take pressure of wild populations of lobster."