October 29, 2011
Australia to face seafood shortage
Australia would experience a chronic shortage of seafood in the next 10-20 years, leading marine scientist Dr Mike Hall said at the Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia conference in Geelong.
Currently, Australians consume about 422,000 tonnes of seafood each year according to Dr Hall, but more than 70% is from imports.
Population estimates by the OECD predict the number of middle-class Asians who on average eat three times as much seafood per person than Australians will skyrocket to 3.2 billion over the next two decades, gobbling up the import market and making seafood a rare and expensive luxury.
"Against these predictions, our current imported supplies of low-cost seafood are unlikely to be around for much longer,'' Dr Hall said.
With extreme demand comes massive opportunity for aquaculture operations, such as the mussel farming operations in Portarlington.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science said, if carefully managed, aquaculture in Australia could benefit from the huge demand approaching from throughout Asia.
"Aquaculture technology has improved significantly over the last two decades and Australia could reap major economic benefits by becoming a major aquaculture and technology exporter,'' Dr Hall said.
"Australia should see it as an opportunity for the wild catch people because as the markets go up, they'll get much better price sending the high-quality catch overseas than keeping it in Australia,'' he said.