Gold in them thar dams

31 Oct, 2000 03:02 PM
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THEY have got the land, and the water, now Gascoyne pastoralists just need something to grow with it. And depending on the outcome of trials in the region now, that "something" may well be goldfish. Aquaculture is just one of a range diversification options being considered by Gascoyne pastoralists to maximise the returns from their considerable resources. Others include a host of horticultural pursuits but, according to Gascoyne Development Commission program manager Natalie Fowler, fish farming is gathering popularity as a possible option and she is confident it has bright future in the region, at least in the long term. And the brightest lights at the moment, she believes, are either prawn farming or ornamentals. The fact that ornamental fish, those than end up in aquariums, can be grown on a small scale with low investment suggests that they are likely to be the first option for many. "With ornamentals, you don't need the investment of a hatchery, as most of them are self-breeders and don't need the specialty treatment," she said. According to Ms Fowler, $30 million worth are imported into Australia every year. And for the farmer, when compared to other fish such as barramundi (which have also been trialled) goldfish are likely to be a more profitable option. "With a goldfish, it can be grown in three months, and is sold for about 50 cents when it weighs about 100 grams," she said. This stacked up well pound for pound against barramundi, which take 12 months to grow and weigh considerably more, she said. At present, there are three pastoralists waiting to take the next step with the fish, with funding being sought from the Gascoyne Murchison Strategy initiative. One of the hurdles though, Ms Fowler said, was a lack of confidence by pastoralists who regard the industry as high risk and didn't believe they had the skills required to make it a success. "With these fish, you don't need to be highly skilled and it can easily be integrated with the main grazing operations of the station," she said.

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