AN aquaculture hub will be constructed at James Cook University in Townsville to boost the industry in northern Australia if the LNP wins the upcoming state election.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington today committed $67 million to build JCU's proposed 'Tropical Aquaculture Accelerator,' which will more than double aquaculture production in Queensland - creating more than 11,200 new jobs in the next 11 years.
The program will bring together JCU scientists and students with the private sector to drive innovation, research and commercialisation in the production of farmed barramundi, prawns, crayfish and other seafood.
Once operational, the accelerator is forecast to more than double Queensland's aquaculture production to $2.6 billion of gross product by 2031.
JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said project was 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 $67m will fund building costs, with the university expecting to contribute $630m in operating costs for the first-of-its kind facility in Australia over 30 years.
LNP Hinchinbrook candidate Scott Piper said it was a transformational project for North Queensland.
"The LNP has already announced a plan to triple rice production in North Queensland and now we're ready to double aquaculture too," Mr Piper said.
JCU Dean of Research Professor Andrew Krockenberger said aquaculture production in northern Australia was forecast to increase five-fold within a decade and deliver a $1.34 billion per annum export industry, creating thousands of jobs.
Prof Krockenberger said the facility would provide opportunities for co-location, with tanks, laboratories, training facilities and indusry liaison to provide the research and development needed to aquaculture to reach its potential in northern Australia.
He said JCU had a strong track record of partnerships with the aquaculture industry and this project would build on that.
"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 program 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."