Australian seafood production value expected to dip

Southern Rock Lobster. Photo: PIRSA
Southern Rock Lobster. Photo: PIRSA

The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will likely have a significant short term impact on Australia's seafood industry, with production value tipped to slide 12 per cent to $2.81 billion this financial year, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

However, production value is expected to bounce back to $3.40 billion in 2020–21 as export markets are assumed to return to normal levels in the wake of COVID-19, especially for high-value commodities like rock lobster and abalone.

ABARES said an expected $389 million fall in fisheries and aquaculture value would be driven largely by a drop in demand from China for live seafood following the COVID-19 outbreak.

In 2018–19, China was the destination for approximately 94 per cent of Australia's $752 million of rock lobster exports and 42 per cent of Australia's $194 million of abalone exports.

"The magnitude of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is uncertain and depends on the extent of the outbreak, its duration and the effectiveness of control measures" said Peter Gooday, Chief Commodity Analyst of ABARES.

"Because of this, the effects of the outbreak could last beyond the 2019–20 financial year."

Mr. Gooday said despite the immediate disruption, the outlook for Australia's trade in fisheries products remained healthy, with export values projected to rise by three per cent in real terms between 2021–22 and 2024–25 to $1.64 billion.

"Growing incomes and populations in our near region are the key drivers behind the growth in export value," Mr. Gooday said.

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