Aquaculture development areas and investment

Land-based marine aquaculture development areas (ADAs) have been identified to promote and grow a sustainable aquaculture industry in Queensland.

About ADAs

ADAs are located in coastal areas where marine species can be cultivated in earthen ponds that require access to seawater. This is often referred to as 'land-based marine aquaculture'.

Queensland Government identified ADAs in response to the Queensland Competition Authority's review of aquaculture regulation in Queensland. We endorsed a number of recommendations in order to expand aquaculture in Queensland and identify ADAs.

ADAs help protect areas with the potential for land-based marine aquaculture development and provide investors with a list of areas for aquaculture development. Investors aren't limited to ADAs and may explore other areas of Queensland for land‑based marine aquaculture development.

Land identified as an ADA can still be used for compatible rural uses that don't prevent aquaculture development. Compatible uses may include:

  • nature conservation
  • sport and recreation
  • solar farms
  • plant nurseries
  • rural or ecotourism
  • combinations of compatible land uses.

How ADAs were identified

To identify ADAs, we consulted with the aquaculture industry, government agencies and local councils, using planning methodology. We applied the following selection criteria:

  • Physical criteria—included necessary features for aquaculture infrastructure, such as land with suitable elevation, topography and distance to seawater access.
  • Environmental criteria—included potential ecological impacts of the aquaculture development, such as impacts on protected areas.
  • Planning criteria—addressed tenure issues and compatibility with state regional plans and local government planning schemes.

ADA sites satisfy the requirements for operating an aquaculture business with minimal environmental and land‑use constraints; however certain constraints still exist. The ADA identification process completes a number of due diligence considerations for investors considering locations for aquaculture operations.

ADAs locations

Following assessment and consultation with stakeholders, the following sites have been identified as ADAs for land-based marine aquaculture. Further information for each ADA site is available in the table below. The ADA locations map shows the location of all ADAs in Queensland.

ADA site Name Local Government Area ADA size (ha)
1 Sleeper Log Creek/Leichhardt Creek Townsville City Council 319
2 Abbot Bay/Good Fortune Bay Whitsunday Regional Council 316
3 Bloomsbury Mackay Regional Council 2126
4 Rockhampton/Casuarina Creek Rockhampton Regional Council 2278
5 Rockhampton/Raglan Creek Rockhampton/Gladstone Regional Council 1430
6 Gladstone/Calliope River Gladstone Regional Council 579
7 Macknade Hinchinbrook Shire Council 498
8 Halifax/Braemeadows Hinchinbrook Shire Council 1476

Total: 9022

Identification of each ADA is reflected in the State Planning Policy guideline material Integrating state interests in planning schemes – Guidance for local government. You can also view the ADAs through the State Planning Policy Interactive Mapping System.

Development in ADAs

Aquaculture in Queensland is managed through development and environmental provisions to ensure farmed species continue to be successful, while maintaining environmental standards. ADAs may have certain constraints that would need to be addressed or which may constrain development on sections of the land (for example, vegetation clearing).

Land-based marine aquaculture requires a development approval issued under the Planning Act 2016 before starting any operations. Other government approvals may also be required. Read the aquaculture licensing and approvals for further information.

Investment opportunities in ADAs

Given its ideal growing conditions and the increasing demand for seafood, Queensland provides many opportunities for aquaculture investment.

Investment in ADAs provides opportunities to promote best practice management, particularly discharging into Queensland waters. Other opportunities may involve using renewable energy (e.g. solar) to power aquaculture farms in ADAs.

Queensland aquaculture producers target high-value domestic and overseas markets. Marine aquaculture species commercially farmed in Queensland include marine prawns (black tiger and banana prawns), barramundi, cobia, groper and cod. Other potential species include mullet, threadfin, whiting, flathead and Moses perch.

Queensland aquaculture is competitively positioned to produce high-value aquaculture products due to:

  • increasing demand for Australian native species
  • proximity to Asian markets
  • world-recognised seafood quality and standards.

Assistance for investors

To discuss investment opportunities in an ADA, contact:

Aquaculture Industry Development Network
Rural Economic Development
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Phone: 0437 440 315 within Australia or +61 437 440 315 outside Australia

If you're considering lodging an approval for aquaculture development, you can use our tools, guidelines and information about starting an aquaculture business in Queensland.