Aquaculture now largest sector of Australia’s seafood industry

An oyster farm somewhere in Australia (Photo: The Nature Conservancy)

Australia’s aquaculture sector continues on a trajectory of steady growth, but the entire industry has experienced disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the latest edition of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics’ (ABARES) Australian Fisheries and Aquaculture Statistics.

According to ABARES Executive Director Dr Jared Greenville, Australia’s aquaculture sector has been steadily increasing in both value and share of gross value of fisheries production (GVP).

“The GVP of the Australian aquaculture sector grew 10 per cent in 2019−20,” Dr Greenville said. “While total Australian fishery and aquaculture GVP in 2019–20 decreased slightly by two per cent to $3.15 billion, higher aquaculture GVP offset lower GVP in the wild-catch sector.

“Last year aquaculture made up just over half of the total GVP share of the Australian fisheries and aquaculture industry, which is up from 43 per cent in 2015–16 and 34 per cent in 2005–06. Much of this has been reflected in Tasmania’s growing salmon aquaculture industry, which is now worth 35 per cent of national fisheries and aquaculture GVP.

“That said, market disruption during COVID-19 has impacted the decrease in wild-catch production, mostly due to decreased exports of rock lobster and abalone, with fishery product exports down 8 per cent to $1.41 billion in 2019–20. This created a 12 per cent contraction in the GVP of the wild-catch sector.”

“This trend isn’t limited to exports. Domestically, buyer behaviour has also changed. Australians consumed around 335,000 tonnes of seafood in 2019−20, a decrease from around 341,000 tonnes in 2017–18, including imported seafood products.”

The total value of fishery and aquaculture products imports decreased by four per cent to $2.2 billion last year, driven mostly by decreased imports of prawns, squids and octopus.


Published since 1978, Ausmarine is the foremost magazine servicing the Australian and New Zealand commercial, military and government marine sectors.