starting an aquaculture business

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has produced a brief overview of aquaculture and a checklist of questions to ask yourself before getting starting in an aquaculture venture.

The focus is on starting an aquaculture enterprise in an Australian-type of context – i.e. where an investment of millions of dollars is required, rather than a backyard type of operation where the goal is to raise fish for yourself, or perhaps a small local market. The information is still valuable, with the checklist covering site, species etc being relevant to fish farming everywhere.

Setting up in aquaculture can be an expensive exercise and is not for the faint-hearted. First you need to acknowledge that this represents a significant business decision and requires a serious commitment.

Just like any other business venture, aquaculture requires a detailed feasibility study before investment decisions are made. Anything less than that puts you in the category of hobby farming, which is an excellent lifestyle choice but may not earn income.

The perception of aquaculture as an appealing lifestyle choice is a commonly held belief in Australia, possibly fuelled by our by our preference for coastal living. This has led on occasions to emotional rather than hard economic reasons driving what can be a ‘make or break’ financial decision. In retrospect, it appears that there are a number of conceptual hurdles at which the prospective aquaculturist may stumble. They are:

  • a too ready acceptance of new or untried technology
  • ignorance of the fact that aquaculture is a farming/business enterprise
  • under capitalisation
  • lack of market intelligence
  • failure to understand that the product is a living organism with special requirements, because of its specific water quality requirements.

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