There is considerable interest in the potential for inland saline aquaculture in Australia. Several developmental projects are currently underway. While these are appropriate regionally, they are being undertaken in the absence of planning and review at the national level. There is an urgent need for national planning to ensure that current and future R&D is coordinated, focused, avoids duplication, and is targeted at realistic and meaningful commercial outcomes. The mapping and classification of inland saline groundwater resources will provide a valuable information bank for both researchers and investors. Successful development of inland saline aquaculture will generate employment opportunities in rural areas, and may defray costs associated with management of shallow saline aquifers.
The development of a national plan for coordinating R&D on inland saline will have benefits for all stakeholders. The industry will benefit from streamlined research aimed at commercial outcomes. Funding agencies and research providers will have guidelines indicating priorities, and a plan for where particular projects fit into the bigger scheme of R&D in inland saline aquaculture.
The recent workshop on Inland Saline Aquaculture in Perth has laid much of the groundwork for the present project. The Aquaculture Committee, on which all State fisheries management agencies are represented, has committed its support for the project. There are no technical constraints to satisfactory completion of the project.
The major risk is that a consultant sufficiently knowledgeable and experienced to prepare the R&D plan is not available for the consultancy. However, the steering group for the project will actively solicit appropriate people if necessary.