Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh said the agreement was the result of many months of negotiation with various parties by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
“It was decided some 12 months ago following extensive research on tropical marine finfish at the Northern Fisheries Centre, that the program was ready for commercialisation,” Mr McVeigh said.
“As part of the research, we identified opportunities to enter the high-value Asian live fish trade.
“We had a deadline of 30 September to secure an investor if we were to keep the centre open as a financially viable facility for industry.
“I’m pleased to confirm a Licence to Occupy was signed with Macarthur Ventures Pty Ltd on Wednesday 25 September.
“The Centre will produce tropical marine finfish fingerlings such as gold-spot grouper (Epinephelus coioides) and Queensland giant groper (Epinephelus lanceolatus), with these fingerlings then going to farms to grow-out to market size.
“This agreement provides long-term surety to the emerging tropical marine finfish industry and aquaculture in North Queensland.”
Member for Cairns Mr Gavin King said the announcement was wonderful news for the Cairns economy and would add an important element of diversification to the city's industry base.
“I commend Minister McVeigh and Macarthur Ventures Pty Ltd on today's announcement and look forward to the facility going from strength to strength into the future.”
Director of Macarthur Ventures Peter Hay said the agreement would also offer employment opportunities to local staff.
“It is our intention to employ the staff necessary to undertake the intensive activity of breeding tropical marine finfish for the commercial market,” Mr Hay said.
“Given the specialised skills of the staff previously employed at the centre by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, we are hoping to employ the majority of those staff.
“We have also begun negotiations to continue and enhance the partnerships commenced by the department during the research phase to deliver finfish products to market.
“The tropical marine finfish industry and associated activities have many opportunities for growth in Australia and overseas, and I’m excited to be leading the investment in this venture.”