​Fast facts

  • In 2016–17 an estimated 15,831 people were employed in the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry, with 7,478 employed in fishing enterprises and 8,352 in aquaculture.
  • An estimated 75 per cent of people worked full-time and 25 per cent worked part-time in the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry in 2016–17.
  • Of the people employed in the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry in 2016–17, 81 per cent were male and 19 per cent were female.

Table 12 is based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Labour Force Survey. The labour market survey data are averaged over four quarters and presented in financial years for the fishing and aquaculture sectors separately. The number of people employed in the sectors is presented by full-time and part-time status and by gender. The ABS Census data provide subsector, jurisdiction employment data for the 2016 calendar year.

In its Labour Force Survey summary (ABS 2016) the ABS estimated that in 2016–17 the fishing and aquaculture industry employed 15,831 people—an increase of 44 per cent compared with 2015–16 (Figure 17). Employment in the aquaculture sector increased by 56 per cent to 8,352 people in 2016–17. Employment in the fishing sector rose by 33 per cent to 7,478 people. The aquaculture industry accounted for 53 per cent of total employment in the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry.

TABLE 12 Employment in the Australian commercial fishing and aquaculture industry, 2012–13 to 2016–17 a
Sector 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 2015–162016–17
Total full-time4,3472,2155,2274,3695,301
Total part-time1,6611,3461,9571,2332,177
Total employed in fishing6,0083,5617,1845,6027,478
Total full-time2,2773,9085,4904,1986,549
Total part-time1,0211,1951,5441,1651,803
Total employed in aquaculture3,2985,1037,0345,3638,352
Grand total 9,306 8,662 14,218 10,966 15,831

a ANZSIC 2006. Average employment is averages over four quarters. Australian Bureau of Statistics advises caution in using employment statistics at the ANZSIC subdivision and group levels because some estimates may be subject to sampling variability and standard errors too high for most practical purposes. Refer to original data sources for specific qualifications. The Australian Bureau of Statistics five-yearly Census of Population and Housing covers the entire population and provides more accurate and comprehensive employment data than surveys and provides data at smaller geographic scales.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Employment in the fisheries and aquaculture sector in 2016–17 comprised 75 per cent full-time employees and 25 per cent part-time employees. Males continue to dominate employment in the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry, accounting for 81 per cent of total employment in 2016–17.

FIGURE 17 Employment in the Australian commercial fishing and aquaculture industry, 2006–07 to 2016–17

The 2016 ABS Census is the most recent survey detailing employment in the fishing industry by sector and by state. Commercial fishing, hunting and trapping and aquaculture activities employed 9,745 people—59 per cent (5,777 people) were engaged in commercial fishing, hunting and trapping activities and 41 per cent (3,968 people) in aquaculture activities. Fish wholesaling and seafood processing employed 4,013 people—62 per cent (2,477 people) were employed in fish wholesaling and 38 per cent (1,536 people) in seafood processing.

The offshore longline and rack aquaculture sector employed the largest number of people (1,406), followed by rock lobster and crab potting (1,106). By state, excluding fishing, hunting and trapping, Queensland employed the largest number of people in the wild-catch sector (998), followed by Western Australia (992) and South Australia (879). Tasmania employed the largest number of people in the aquaculture sector (1,585 people), followed by New South Wales (675) and South Australia (528).

TABLE 13 Estimated employment in the Australian commercial fishing and aquaculture industry, 2016 a
CategoryNSW no.Vic. no.Qld no.SA  no.WA no.Tas. no.NT no.ACT no.Australia no.
Onshore aquaculture10610433415274120170913
Offshore longline and rack aquaculture4531910322077532301,406
Offshore caged aquaculture322911401179400912
Rock lobster and crab potting4266811895441641201,106
Prawn fishing64016776610140392
Line fishing671218430058
Fish trawling, seining and netting11112822300080
Fishing, hunting and trapping260196276899945187997
Other fishing67329971057438031617303,144
Fishing and aquaculture total1,7318731,8401,5361,3452,11324579,745
Seafood processing202173221321266349501,536
Fish and seafood wholesaling6686256041912581091672,477
Processing and wholesaling total8707988255125244582174,013
Grand total2,6061,6672,66820471,8752,5862821813,755

a Based on 2016 ABS Census data. Categories are consistent with ANZSIC 2006.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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