Trade

Source: ABARES

Fast facts

Exports

  • Total value of fishery and aquaculture product exports declined by 7 per cent in 2016–17 to $1.44 billion.
  • Seafood export value decreased by 6 per cent in 2016–17 to $1.33 billion, while seafood export volume declined by 17 per cent to 51,371 tonnes. Non-edible fishery and aquaculture product exports declined by 17 per cent to $103 million in 2016–17, largely reflecting a decline in the value of pearl exports.
  • Total value of fishery and aquaculture product exports was 24 per cent lower in real terms in 2016–17 compared with 2006–07.

Imports

  • The total value of fishery and aquaculture product imports increased by 4 per cent in 2016–17 to $2.18 billion.
  • Seafood imports increased by 6 per cent in 2016–17 to $1.90 billion, contributing 87 per cent to the total import value of all fishery and aquaculture products. Seafood import volume increased by 2 per cent to 226,386 tonnes.
  • The value of Australian fishery product imports was 17 per cent higher in real terms in 2016–17 compared with 2006–07. Most of this increase is attributed to higher imports of seafood products, which increased by 27 per cent in real terms from 2006–07 to 2016–17.

Fisheries products trade

Australian fishery and aquaculture exports are dominated by high unit value products such as rock lobster, tuna and abalone. Imports of fishery and aquaculture products largely consist of lower unit value products such as canned or frozen finfish, but also includes higher unit value products such as prawns and salmon. Australia is a net importer of fishery and aquaculture products based on volume. Based on value, Australia became a net importer of fishery and aquaculture products in 2007–08 (Figure 14). The real value (in 2016–17 dollars) of net imports increased from $66 million in 2007–08 to $741 million in 2016–17 (Figure 14).

FIGURE 14 Australian fishery export and import value, 2006–07 to 2016–17

Exports by commodity

Crustacean and mollusc product exports are the largest contributor to Australia’s total fishery and aquaculture product export earnings (Table 10). This is mostly the result of three commodities: rock lobster, abalone and prawns. Rock lobster was the highest value exported fisheries and aquaculture product in 2016–17 with exports totalling $676 million. Average unit export values of Australian rock lobster exports remained relatively high in 2016–17 reflecting strong demand for the product. This was despite relatively high export volumes from North America and New Zealand to key Australian export markets. The value of abalone exports increased by 3 per cent in 2016–17 to $187 million and abalone exports to China nearly doubled to $45 million. The value of prawn exports remained largely unchanged in 2016–17 at $114 million. An increase in export volume was offset by a decline in average export unit values.

The value of Australian tuna exports fell by 11 per cent in 2016–17 to $144 million. This was largely due to a decline in the value of southern bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna. Australian tuna exports are dominated by southern bluefin tuna, which are largely farmed in South Australia and exported to Japan. In 2016–17 the value of tuna exports to Japan declined to $127 million. This reflected a decline in export volume more than offsetting an increase in average export price.

TABLE 10 Fishery and aquaculture product exports, 2016–17
Product group($ million)(tonnes)(%)(%)
Crustaceans and molluscs1,026.520,136–32
Edible finfish306.131,235–14–26
Non-edible102.6na–17na
Total1,435.2na–7na

na Not available.
Note: See statistical table S18 for detailed statistics.

Exports by destination

The major fisheries product export destinations for Australia in 2016–17 were Vietnam ($575 million), Hong Kong ($232 million), Japan ($223 million), China ($171 million) and the United States ($53 million) (Figure 15). Together, these countries accounted for 87 per cent of fishery products (including live fish) exported from Australia in 2016–17. Exports to China increased by $63 million in 2016–17 and was the single largest increase of any single export destination that year. The increase in export value was driven by an increase in the value of rock lobster and abalone products. Under the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement, tariffs on a number of seafood products fell in 2016 and 2017, including for abalone and rock lobster.

Between 2006–07 and 2012–13 the majority of fisheries products were exported to Hong Kong. Since 2013–14 Vietnam has been the primary export destination despite export value and share of total exports to this destination declining since 2015–16. In 2016–17 exports to Vietnam declined by $107 million, largely reflecting a decline in the export value of rock lobster.

FIGURE 15 Value of exports by destination, 2006–07 to 2016–17

Imports by commodity

The total value of fishery and aquaculture product imports increased by 4 per cent in 2016–17 to $2.18 billion. Seafood imports increased by 6 per cent to $1.9 billion. Edible finfish imports increased by 6 per cent to $1.13 billion to account for around half of seafood import value in 2016–17. The total value of crustacean and mollusc imports increased by 7 per cent in 2016–17 to $768 million. Imports of non-edible fishery and aquaculture products decreased by 6 per cent in 2015–16 to $275 million.

The value of prawn imports remained largely unchanged in 2016–17 at around $400 million although the composition of prawn products changed away from frozen imports towards prepared or preserved products. Tuna (largely canned) remained the single most valuable imported finfish with a total import value of $303 million in 2016–17. Australian imports of salmonid products reached a record $217 million in 2016–17. The value of salmonid import products increased by 67 per cent in real terms between 2006–07 and 2016–17. This increase occurred despite domestic salmonid production value more than doubling in real terms over the same period to $756 million with exports remaining only a relatively minor share of domestic production.

TABLE 11 Fishery and aquaculture imports, 2016–17
Product groupValueVolumeValue changeVolume change
($ million)(tonnes)(%)(%)
Crustaceans and molluscs767.969,45472
Edible finfish1,901.0156,91262
Non-edible275.4na–6na
Total2,176.4na4na

na Not available.
Note: See statistical table S29 for detailed statistics.

Imports by origin

The major sources of Australian edible fishery and aquaculture product imports in 2016–17  were Thailand ($455 million), China ($305 million), Vietnam ($243 million) and New Zealand ($216 million) (Figure 16). Together, these countries accounted for 64 per cent of imports in 2016–17. These countries also accounted for the majority (66 per cent) of imports in 2006–07. The major product groups imported from Thailand are tuna (mostly canned tuna) and prawns. Significant imports from China include prawns, scallops, squid and octopus. Imports from Vietnam are mostly prawns and fish fillets. Imports from New Zealand are predominantly finfish products.

FIGURE 16 Value of edible product imports (excluding live products) by source, 2006–07 to 2016–17
Note: See statistical tables S32 to S37 for detailed statistics
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Last reviewed:
20 Dec 2018