Hervey Bay’s Aquafarms will regenerate local ocean beds and boost its sea cucumbers export to Asian markets, thanks to Queensland Government investment.
Aquafarms are one of more than 50 Queensland businesses to recently share in more than $6.5 million from the latest round of Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas Fund.
Advance Queensland caught up with Aquafarms Queensland Director David Williams to learn more about this niche business.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your company?
Aquafarms Queensland is a small aquaculture company that has been operating for 17 years in Hervey Bay. Our business is a sea cucumber juvenile hatchery production for our own sea ranch farm sites and the production and supply of Sydney rock oyster ‘spat’ (juvenile oysters) to oyster farmers in Queensland and New South Wales.
Our mission is to support and enhance the fresh sustainable ‘green’ seafood industry in Queensland.
What problem did you set out to address?
We have overcome a major industry problem, which has previously prevented successful commercial production of the sea cucumbers in sustainable quantities and quality.
Through many years of research and trials, we have developed a process that commercially produces sea cucumber juveniles in a marine hatchery for sea ranching and further growth.
What is next for your business? Any plans in the pipeline?
We plan on expanding production and look at developing new commercial sea cucumber species and value adding a new unique sea cucumber product for the pharmaceutical market.
How will the Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas Round 5 funding help your idea to develop?
Ignite Ideas will enable us to increase the size of our hatchery, providing significant opportunities to increase Queensland sea cucumber production.
We will be able to take it from a trial to a commercial level, doubling (if not tripling), current production levels of Queensland sea cucumber production.
By increasing the size of our hatchery, we can guarantee the Fraser Coast’s supply of consistent export volumes of premium-quality sea cucumbers and sandfish, which are highly prized by the Asian market.
We expect to employ five new employees in the next 12 months in hatchery production, project management and processing roles, including local Indigenous people skilled in farming sea cucumbers.
Who are your customers and how will they benefit from this opportunity?
Our customers, mainly from Hong Kong or China love our sea cucumbers because of their quality and the quantity we are able to supply.
Queensland has a great future for marine aquaculture and sustainable seafood production with Queensland aquaculture being competitively positioned to produce high-value aquaculture products due to increasing demand for Australian native species, proximity to Asian markets and world-recognised seafood quality and standards.
Who else has been instrumental in your success?
In addition to the support from Advance Queensland, we have also had immense help from the Queensland Government’s Department of Fisheries for their valuable help and business support and our company success, specifically the Aquaculture team — past and present. These dedicated staff have all really helped me to be what we are today and I thank them for their commitment for sustainable aquaculture development.
AquaFarms are one of more than 50 Queensland businesses to share in more than $6.5 million from Round 5 of the Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas Fund. Visit the website to find out how the Advance Queensland initiative can help grow your business.