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Australia earmarks $329 million for offshore aquaculture developments

18 April 2019, at 8:49am

A new cooperative research centre (CRC), that aims to develop offshore aquaculture facilities in conjunction with renewable energy production schemes has been launched today.

The Blue Economy CRC is a $329 million research project, which will combine seafood, renewable energy and offshore engineering for the first time, underpinned by a $70 million cash investment from the Australian Federal Government.

$329 million has been earmarked for the 10 year project, in which over 40 organisations are involved
$329 million has been earmarked for the 10 year project, in which over 40 organisations are involved

Offshore Engineering Program Leader and University of Queensland (UQ) researcher Professor Chien Ming Wang said the funding would be delivered over 10 years to support innovative solutions and transform the way we utilised our oceans.

“Australia has some of the world’s best wind, wave and tidal resources, which have enormous potential to deliver energy to support offshore operations, such as fish farms, and exportable renewable energy,” Professor Wang said.

“Fish farm operators worldwide are moving their farms offshore to take advantage of larger sea space and better water quality to produce healthier fish for a better seafood industry.

“This funding allows us to take our research further and develop infrastructure that can withstand the offshore environment, are commercially viable and can deliver competitive energy solutions for offshore production systems.”

One of UQ’s key contributions will be to help develop fish cage designs for offshore fish farming.

UQ Centre for Policy Futures Senior Research Fellow Dr Pedro Fidelman and his colleagues will focus on policy options for safe, sustainable and appropriate development of the offshore activities.

“We will need to research, and together with relevant government, industry and community stakeholders, develop options to address policy and regulatory challenges that may arise from novel offshore activities,” Dr Fidelman said.

The centre will include 50 post-doctoral fellowships, as well as 50 PhD scholarships spread across five different research areas.

The CRC five distinct research areas include offshore engineering and technology, seafood and marine products, marine renewable energy, environment and ecosystems, and governance, policy, business development and communication.

Deputy Program Leader for Environment and Ecosystems and UQ researcher Dr Remo Cossu said the project had support from research organisations and industry.

“This support demonstrates both the pressing need and wide-spread determination to work together towards sustainable food and energy production solutions in the marine environment.”

School of Civil Engineering Senior Lecturer Dr Ilje Pikaar said the CRC also highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary research in order to tackle major challenges like climate change and development of sustainable food systems.

“Equally important, it is also a testimony for the research excellence and the strong collaboration across several UQ schools, faculties and institutes.”

The Blue Economy CRC head office will be hosted at the University of Tasmania’s Launceston campus.