Seafood production value expected to dip in 2019–20

3 March 2020

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% to $2.81 billion this financial year.

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.

Australia’s premier agricultural forecaster, 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% of Australia's $752 million of rock lobster exports and 42% 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” he said.

Australia's fisheries exports are driven largely by proximity to dynamic Asian seafood markets and our reputation as a reliable and high-quality supplier of premium seafood products like rock lobster and abalone.

China is the major export destination for Australian seafood products and accounted for 58% of Australia's total fisheries export value in 2018–19.

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 3% 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.

This report was released at the ABARES Outlook 2020 conference and forms part of a suite of ABARES publications that provide a comprehensive account of the trends and outlook for Australian fisheries. To read the report, visit https://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/fisheries/fisheries-economics/fisheries-forecasts.

Last reviewed: 3 March 2020
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