CHRISTIE ANDERSON, Townsville Bulletin January 18, 2017 8:49am
A COMMERCIAL redclaw hatchery that could revolutionise the farming of freshwater crayfish has opened in Townsville.
The hatchery has been set up in a 553sq m warehouse at Mount St John after its owners searched for months for a suitable location to house the groundbreaking operation.
The hatchery is in its own climate-controlled building within the warehouse, with a lab attached used for water quality and disease testing.
Australian Crayfish Hatchery managing director Dr Lisa Elliott said the industry had encountered problems with producing red-claw crayfish hatchlings in commercial quantities.
“There is nothing else like it in the world and certainly not on a commercial level,” Dr Elliott said.
“We really are paving the way.
“We’re hoping to make an impact on the redclaw industry here in Australia by offering them (farmers) a new way of stocking their ponds.
“There is huge potential for export and it will certainly assist with the growth of the industry here in Australia.
“The current stocking method is so unpredictable and you don’t know how many animals you have in ponds.
“I think we will see more farms start up and some farms that have already started will expand.”
After securing the 553sq m warehouse on a two-year lease with a three-year option, Dr Elliott and her team moved in on November 14.
Ray White Commercial agent Troy Townsend said Dr Elliott had specific requirements which made it difficult to find a suitable location while some landlords were also wary about leasing a space for aquaculture purposes.
“They inspected 25 properties with me,” he said. “They wanted a very clean and modern facility and because it is such an unusual style of business, some of the landlords were wary. They found a good property at a fair price and the property they leased had been empty for several years due to the high vacancy rate.”
Dr Elliott said after living in Townsville for 20 years she knew she wanted the hatchery based in the region.
“Townsville has the airport, rail and road so we have good infrastructure to get our product where we need to get it to,” she said.
“We could have moved to Brisbane which would have been better for export but our eggs come from the Tablelands.
“It made sense for us to stay in Townsville and we love it here.”