Find Fisheries expertise in Australia
- Overview of the industry
- Fishery bodies
Agriculture, forestry and fishing make up 3% of Australia’s GDP (2008), while commercial fishing and the aquaculture industry is worth over $2 billion annually and employs around 16,000 people (9,700 directly and 6,200 indirectly) (2010). Australia’s fishing zone is the world’s third largest (total of 8,148,250 km2) and it has a coastline of 36,735 km, but the waters lack nutrient-rich currents and, consequently, have low productivity. This may explain why Australia is only ranked 52nd in the world in terms of volume landed.
The catch profile is constituted by high value export species such as lobsters, prawns, tuna, salmon and abalone. Around 60% of Australia’s fishery production is exported, whilst the majority of aquaculture products are also exported. In 2005-2006, Hong Kong overtook Japan as Australia’s main export market for edible fisheries products. In value, 33% of edible fisheries products were exported to Hong Kong ($396 million) and 31% were exported to Japan ($371 million). The main edible fisheries products exported to Hong Kong are rock lobster and abalone.
The vast majority of Australia’s catch is marine as the inland fisheries are relatively small and declining due to low rainfall, few river systems and the cessation of commercial fishing in the Murray River. The three high value species of shrimp, lobster and abalone dominate the sector, contributing 49% of the value, though only 23% of production. Other major species include oysters, tuna, scallops and a variety of marine and estuarine fish.
Aquaculture occurs throughout Australia, from the tropical north to the temperate south. Most of the value of Australian aquaculture production comes from high value species such as pearls, salmonids and tuna but there are over forty species commercially produced in Australia. Shrimp fisheries dominate production in the northern Queensland areas, while abalone and rock lobsters are important in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Aquaculture is a developing industry in Australia but continues to grow, largely due to the growth of the southern Bluefin tuna farming in South Australia contributing nearly half of the value of all aquaculture activities, and pearl culture which contributed about a quarter.
Quotas have been introduced in some of the fisheries to reduce fishing to sustainable levels.
Major fishing companies include Austral Fisheries, Tasmanian-based ASX-listed Company Tassal, A Raptis and Sons Pty, Ltd., Abacus Fisheries Co. Pty. Ltd., and Above Average Fisheries Pty Ltd.
The sector is regulated by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), who ensures that fishing is conducted in a sustainable way. It was established in 1992, under the Fisheries Management Act 1991, the Fisheries Administration Act 1991 and related fisheries regulations, that AFMA manage Commonwealth fisheries. AFMA is a statutory authority, governed by an independent board.
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is the statutory authority responsible for the efficient management of Australian Government fishery resources on behalf of the community and key stakeholders.
The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) is a rural research and development corporation within the Australian Government portfolio of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. The FRDC is the leading Australian agency concerned with planning, funding and managing fisheries research and development.