Tasmania’s 'blue-sky' future
A transformative 'blue economy’ research centre will further secure the future for the thousands of Tasmanians who rely on the ocean’s wealth – including father and daughter, Steve and Tori Percival.
It will also firmly establish Tasmania as a blue economy world leader.
'Blue economy’ is a relatively new term. Its focus is on the sustainability of marine-based industries. In other words, the 'blue’ resources from the oceans.
Importantly, this new Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) will put Tasmania at the forefront of tackling both the opportunities and challenges that arise from our waters. It will bring together scientific experts in marine ecology, offshore renewable energy, marine engineering and aquaculture.
And, for the Percivals, who both depend on our world-class salmon industry for their livelihood, that’s great news indeed.
Eight trillion dollars. That’s how much the blue economy – or wealth from our oceans – is worth to the world each year.
And, the new multi-million-dollar CRC will ensure Tasmania becomes a global leader in this rapidly expanding sector, as a destination of choice for the world’s leading marine scientific minds.
Led by the University of Tasmania (UTAS), and based at Launceston’s Australian Maritime College, the CRC will be a partnership between 45 different Government and industry groups from Australia and overseas who are involved in blue economy research.
"This is big blue-sky thinking fused with practical, impactful research to answer one of our planet’s most critical questions: How can we sustainably feed and power ourselves from the world’s oceans?” UTAS Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rufus Black explains.
"The Blue Economy CRC imagines a future where integrated seafood and renewable energy production systems operate offshore, and where the community and industry have confidence that they are safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally responsible.
"This work will leave a compelling legacy of high-impact research, a competitive advantage for Australian industry, innovation, collaboration and leadership on a global scale.”
The lives of Tori and Steve Percival revolve around fish.
When they’re not away on fishing trips together, time is spent working in Tasmania’s salmon industry, and both see the enormous value of the CRC.
Steve, a trained veterinarian, became farm manager at Huon Aquaculture 30 years ago when it was a fledgling operation with just six staff. There were no surprises when 27-year-old Tori followed in her father’s footsteps five years ago.
"There were times when I was about 10 years old, that I would be out on the water at 2am helping dad sample fish for different trials that he had going on. I took opportunities to be part of it whenever I could,” Tori says.
Tori is now Planning Manager at Huon Aquaculture, and Steve couldn’t be prouder.
"I have to pinch myself when we are sitting around the board table, and Tori is providing sales planning advice for the next five years,” he enthuses.
This proud dad has already seen the wonderful opportunities that salmon has given his daughter and is heartened that the CRC will further secure the future of the industry she has chosen.
Four thousand Tasmanians rely on salmon for their livelihood – especially in smaller regional communities. And it’s these areas that will benefit most from the new CRC.
It is estimated that the CRC could create an extra 2,500 jobs in Australia’s 'Blue Economy’ by 2035 as a result of scientific advances. Many of those jobs will be in salmon.
"In the salmon industry a lot of the work is in remote rural areas where traditional employment opportunities, like fishing and forestry, have significantly declined. So, it’s incredibly important for those communities from a financial sense,” Steve says.
In the tight-knit Huon community south of Hobart, where Huon Aquaculture has its Dover base, salmon is more than a job. It’s a way of life.
"I work with a lot of great people, and they all come from backgrounds of growing up, and working around, the Dover area. Huon Aquaculture is quite literally their life,” Tori explains.
Salmon currently injects more than $800 million into the Tasmanian economy each year, and the CRC will be pivotal in ensuring its sustainable future.
"A lot of the CRC will be about new science, about new methods, about new techniques, and how the salmon industry can improve in the future,” Andrew Gregson from the Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association explains.
"It goes without saying that Tasmania is surrounded by water, and the effective and sustainable use of that water, and sharing that resource, is what will create a bright future for this State.”
Images courtesy of Huon Aquaculture and ABC News
28 May 2019, Edition 205