Start an aquaculture business

Have your say on the Queensland Aquaculture Strategy 2024–2034 consultation paper. Submissions close Wednesday 31 July 2024.

You need to plan carefully before starting an aquaculture business in Queensland.

Aquaculture projects vary considerably in their potential environmental, economic and social impacts.

Like any business, you'll need to decide

  • where you fit into the industry (e.g. as an owner-manager or investor)
  • what type of aquaculture is best suited to your potential farm site.

Contact Fisheries Queensland first

Contact Fisheries Queensland on 13 25 23 before starting, to ensure your proposed aquaculture farm is compliant with industry regulations.

Aquaculture is an industry managed by several government agencies at all levels of government including local council, state and federal government.

The approvals you need will depend on the type, scale and location of your aquaculture project.

Select freshwater or marine aquaculture

Queensland has ideal growing conditions for both freshwater and land-based or tidal (offshore, in-sea) marine aquaculture farms.

The species you plan to culture will determine:

Make sure the species:

  • will thrive in the local climate (if they are farmed in outdoor ponds)
  • can tolerate the region's potential weather extremes.

Freshwater aquaculture

Freshwater aquaculture is the culture of aquatic animals under natural or artificial conditions within Queensland's coastal areas, or inland site locations.

Freshwater farms can use:

Water to supply these systems can be sourced from reservoirs, lakes and inland waterways, including brackish water.

Species farmed:

Marine aquaculture

Marine aquaculture is the culture of aquatic animals in:

  • open ocean
  • enclosed sections of the ocean
  • controlled environments such as ponds or tanks on coastal land.

These farms can use:

Species farmed:

Plan and run your business

Analyse your current work situation, personal finances and commitments before entering aquaculture. It's common to rely on off-farm income during the establishment phase of an aquaculture business, as it takes time for any aquatic species to grow out and be ready for the market.

Assess the risks

Aquaculture farming returns are affected by risks including:

  • establishment and management risks (e.g. changing feed prices)
  • biological requirements of aquaculture species
  • the physical environment in which the farm operates (e.g. weather events)
  • fluctuating feed prices
  • current and future markets.

Access business support

We offer a range of content, tools and support services to help you grow and run your business.

Consider consulting a business adviser to help you learn more about business planning and selecting the right financing for your proposed project.

The Australian Government can help you:

  • register a new Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • apply for federal grants
  • register your business name
  • find training and networking events.

Find grants or funding

You may be eligible to access state, federal or local government grants and business support services. Alternatively, you can explore private sources of financing to fund your initial startup costs.

Create a business plan

A business plan documents your objectives and the strategies and structures you have in place for achieving them.

Your business plan should explain how you will manage all the important aspects of your business, from products and services to operational plans and finances.

Calculate start-up and ongoing costs

Capital costs to fully develop an aquaculture business differ depending on the production type and species selected.

You need to ensure that you have enough cash flow to manage seasonal fluctuations in aquaculture production. Due to this fluctuation, most companies take a conservative approach when projecting their revenues during the first few years.