Production

Source: ABARES

Fast facts

In 2016–17

  • The gross value of Australian fishery and aquaculture production (GVP) increased by 1 per cent in 2016–17 to $3.06 billion.
  • Wild-caught products accounted for 56 per cent ($1.74 billion) of Australian fishery and aquaculture GVP. Aquaculture products accounted for 44 per cent ($1.35 billion).
  • Wild-catch GVP declined marginally in 2016–17, while production volume fell by 5 per cent to 166,022 tonnes. A decline in the value of wild-caught finfish and crustaceans more than offset an increase in the value of wild-caught mollusc production.
  • Aquaculture GVP increased by 4 per cent in 2016–17 to $1.35 billion and aquaculture production volume increased by 4 per cent to 93,968 tonnes. The increase in value was largely attributed to higher production value of salmonids, which increased by 5 per cent to $756 million. Farmed salmonids were the most valuable aquaculture species in 2016–17.

From 2006–07 to 2016–17

  • Australian fishery and aquaculture GVP was 9 per cent higher in real terms in 2016–17 compared with 2006–07.
  • The value of aquaculture production increased by 32 per cent in real terms, largely reflecting expansion of the salmonid industry.
  • Wild-caught production value declined by 5 per cent in real terms because of lower finfish and mollusc production value.
  • The value of farmed salmonid production increased by 105 per cent in real terms to $756 million, driven by increased salmonid production volume, which doubled to 52,799 tonnes between 2006–07 and 2016–17.

Production by sector

The wild-catch sector accounts for the majority of the GVP of Australia’s commercial fishery and aquaculture industry (Figure 2, Table 1). The sector comprises state fisheries (generally, fisheries operating within 3 nautical miles of the state’s coast) and Commonwealth fisheries (fisheries operating between 3 and 200 nautical miles of Australia’s coastline). The development of Australia’s aquaculture sector between 2006–07 and 2016–17 has resulted in the sector increasing its share of total production value and volume.

TABLE 1 Australian fisheries and aquaculture production by sector, 2016–17
SectorValue ($ million)Volume (tonnes)
Total wild catch1,742.4166,022
state wild catch1,339.0117,431
Commonwealth wild catch403.448,592
Aquaculture1,346.893,968
Total a3,057.8255,304

a To avoid double counting, total has been reduced to allow for southern bluefin tuna caught in the
Commonwealth Southern Bluefin Tuna Fishery as an input to farms in South Australia.
Note: See statistical tables S1, S2 and S17 for detailed statistic

FIGURE 2 Value of Australian fisheries and aquaculture production by sector, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate

Wild-catch fisheries

From 2006–07 to 2013–14 wild-catch production volume decreased. Most of this reduction was attributed to lower volumes of landed finfish. This is due to a number of factors, including lower total allowable catches for some species and market factors that affected the quantity of landings, such as a persistently high Australian dollar causing increased import competition. High input costs over the period (for example, fuel costs) also contributed to lower volumes of landed finfish.

In contrast, wild-caught production volume increased by 14 per cent in 2015–16 to an eight-year high of 174,247 tonnes. This was largely the result of a substantial increase in the catch volume of small pelagic species and the highest tuna catch since 2006–07. However, the volume of wild-caught fisheries production declined by 5 per cent in 2016–17 to 166,022 tonnes because of a 9 per cent decline in finfish catch to 115,495 tonnes.

The real value of wild-caught production in 2011–12 was 22 per cent below the level achieved in 2006–07 (Figure 3). This decline was a result of a lower rock lobster, prawn and abalone production value, which fell by a combined $292 million (in 2016–17 dollars) between 2006–07 and 2011–12. Wild-catch GVP has increased annually between 2011–12 and 2015–16 because of strong growth in the value of rock lobster production. In 2016–17 wild-catch sector GVP declined marginally to $1.74 billion. An increase in the production value across all major wild-caught mollusc species was more than offset by a reduction in the value of finfish and crustacean production.

FIGURE 3 Wild-catch production value by major species group, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.

Rock lobster contributed 39 per cent ($673 million) to wild-caught GVP, the most of any species group. The majority of rock lobster production occurs in WA wild-capture fisheries. In 2016–17 the value of WA rock lobster production increased by 2 per cent to $401 million, reflecting an increase in total allowable commercial catch (TACC) in the 2017 fishing season.

Tuna is the single most valuable wild-caught finfish species in Australia and are largely caught in Commonwealth fisheries. In 2016–17 the total value of tuna caught in commonwealth fisheries declined by 14 per cent to $64 million, largely reflecting a decline in catch volume. Southern bluefin tuna was the most valuable tuna species caught in 2016–17 at $39 million. Wild-caught southern bluefin tuna is largely ranched and grown out in purpose built sea pens in the Port Lincoln region, a significant seafood centre in South Australia. Through farming the wild-caught southern bluefin tuna gains significant value. In 2016–17 the farmgate value of southern bluefin tuna was $115 million.

The total value of wild-caught prawn production increased by 3 per cent in 2016–17 to $310 million. The value of prawn production in the Commonwealth Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF), the single most valuable prawn fishery in Australia, decreased by 7 per cent to $114 million. In contrast, the value of Queensland wild-caught prawns increased by 26 per cent to $79 million — the highest level in real terms since 2009–10.

Aquaculture

The volume of Australian aquaculture production increased by 53 per cent between 2006–07 and 2016–17 to reach 93,968 tonnes. The value of Australian aquaculture production increased by 32 per cent in real terms between 2006–07 and 2016–17 (Figure 4). This resulted in aquaculture’s share of total fishery and aquaculture production value increasing from 36 per cent in 2006–07 to 44 per cent in 2016–17.

The increasing value of the aquaculture sector is largely the result of increased Tasmanian salmonid production. The rising share of aquaculture in Australian seafood supply is consistent with a global trend of meeting increasing demand for seafood from aquaculture.

Salmonids were the single most valuable species group produced in Australia in 2016–17 with a farmgate production value of $756 million. Between 2006–07 and 2016–17 the value of salmonid production more than doubled in real terms from $369 million to $756 million. This increase largely reflected an increase in the value of Tasmanian salmonid production. Other large value aquaculture species farmed in 2016–17 included southern bluefin tuna ($115 million), edible oysters ($112 million), prawns ($86 million) and pearl oysters ($70 million).

FIGURE 4 Value of Australian aquaculture production by major species group, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.

Gross value of fishery production

Gross value of fishery production (GVP) provides industry and policymakers with information about the gross income generated from the commercial harvest of wild-catch stocks and aquaculture production within commercial wild-catch and aquaculture fisheries and across jurisdictions. These values also provide an estimate of the activity level, in value terms, of commercial fisheries and relative value of harvest across species.

Use of GVP as a measure of the production value of Australian fisheries in official statistics began in the early 1900s. It is a measure of the value of fishery production generated by commercial fishers or produced by aquaculture farmers. From 1935 to the late 1980s the ABS published official GVP statistics for Australian fisheries, by jurisdiction and at a national level (ABS 1989; CBCS 1936). The ABS no longer collects statistics on Australian fisheries. Since the early 1990s ABARES has produced Australian fisheries and aquaculture statistics. This publication presents statistics on the value of production of fishery and aquaculture products for each Australian fishery jurisdiction using data provided by each state and territory jurisdiction. Information on international trade in fishery and aquaculture products is drawn from ABS data.

The GVP is calculated by multiplying the weight of production by the landed unit value. The landed unit value is defined as the beach price for fish species caught in wild-catch fisheries and the farmgate price for fishery and aquaculture products produced in aquaculture establishments. These prices broadly reflect the unit prices that fishers receive for their catch or that aquaculture farmers receive for their production. The landed unit value does not include any margins associated with the marketing (including freight) and services added when fishery and aquaculture are processed and onsold. The use of the landed unit value (beach price) in deriving gross value of production is common across jurisdictions.

Price data can be derived from various sources, including fishers and aquaculture farm operators, seafood markets and seafood buyers and processors. For some jurisdictions, the values are collected by the fisheries management authority; other jurisdictions depend on information provided by a relatively small sample of buyers.

Most fish is sold on a market away from the point of landing or aquaculture farm gate. As a result, transport and marketing margins are usually subtracted to estimate the beach price that commercial fishers receive and the farmgate price received by aquaculture farmers.

To value production at the point of landing, whole weight equivalents are used in the GVP calculation for each species being valued. Valuing production in whole weight equivalents enables comparisons across regions and species. Whole weight equivalents for semi-processed fish are obtained by applying conversion factors for each species where production is not landed whole but in a semi-processed state, such as gutted, headed and gutted, or in an otherwise reduced condition.

Production by jurisdiction

Jurisdiction of catch refers to whether the catch falls into state or Commonwealth jurisdictional waters. Location of catch refers to the state that the catch is landed in and includes Commonwealth catch distributed to the states.

In 2016–17 Tasmania had the largest GVP, accounting for 31 per cent of total fishery production value, followed by Western Australia (20 per cent) and South Australia (16 per cent) (Figure 5). Percentages are calculated based on the sum of gross jurisdictional production values, which have not been adjusted for tuna caught in the Southern Bluefin Tuna Fishery and introduced into SA farms.

The largest movements in production value from 2006–07 to 2016–17 came from Tasmanian production value, which increased substantially in real terms. This resulted in an increase in Tasmania’s production share from 22 per cent in 2006–07 to 31 per cent in 2016–17. This was a result of significant growth in the Tasmanian aquaculture industry, particularly in salmonid production.

FIGURE 5 Shares in gross value of fishery and aquaculture production by jurisdiction, 2006–07 and 2016–17

New South Wales

Key species groups: prawns (wild catch), rock lobster (wild catch), oysters (aquaculture).

The gross value of NSW fishery production increased by 2 per cent in 2016–17 to $154 million and volume fell by 7 per cent to 15,425 tonnes (Figure 6).

Wild catch

In 2016–17 the gross value of NSW wild-catch fishery production decreased by 2 per cent to $89 million. This was largely the result of a 10 per cent fall in landed catch volume. NSW wild‑catch fisheries GVP trended down between 2006–07 and 2016–17 because of declining value of finfish catch. The fall in finfish production can be attributed to lower fishing effort as a result of fishers exiting the industry in the period and an increase in import competition for frozen finfish product into the Australian domestic market.

Aquaculture

The gross value of NSW aquaculture production increased by 7 per cent in 2016–17 to $65 million. Aquaculture oyster production made the most significant contribution to the rise in value, increasing in value by 6 per cent to $45 million—the highest value in real terms since 2009–10. The value of the NSW aquaculture sector trended down between 2006–07 and 2011–12, largely as a result of lower edible oyster GVP after adverse environmental conditions affected production.

FIGURE 6 NSW fisheries and aquaculture production value by sector, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.
TABLE 2 NSW fisheries and aquaculture production by sector, 2016–17
SectorValueVolumeValue changeVolume change
($ million)(tonnes)(%)(%)
Wild catch89.310,574–2–10
Aquaculture64.64,85171
Total153.915,4252–7

Note: See statistical table S7 for detailed statistics.

Victoria

Key species groups: abalone (wild catch, aquaculture), southern rock lobster (wild catch), abalone (aquaculture).

The gross value of Victorian fishery and aquaculture production increased by 10 per cent in 2016–17 to $94 million (Figure 7). This was largely the result of a 43 per cent increase in the value of aquaculture production.

Wild catch

Victorian wild-catch fishery production value fell by 6 per cent in 2016–17 to $54 million. This was driven by a fall in production value for a number of finfish species, particularly King George whiting and snapper, and lower production value of rock lobster, prawns and squid. The value of rock lobster declined by 7 per cent in 2016–17 to around $23 million, largely reflecting a 9 per cent decline in catch.

Victorian wild-catch fisheries GVP fell by 41 per cent in real terms between 2006–07 and 2009–10 as a result of strong falls in abalone average unit values and volumes produced.

Aquaculture

The gross value of Victorian aquaculture production increased by 43 per cent in 2016–17 to $39 million. Since 2008–09 aquaculture GVP has generally increased due to growth in the value of salmonid and abalone production. In 2016–17 the value of Victorian salmonid production reach its highest level in real terms since 2003–04, while the value of aquaculture abalone increased by 60 per cent to around $18 million.

FIGURE 7 Victoria fisheries and aquaculture production value by sector, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.
TABLE 3 Victorian fisheries and aquaculture by sector, 2016–17
SectorValueVolumeValue changeVolume change
($ million)(tonnes)(%)(%)
Wild catch54.44,845–68
Aquaculture39.33,1474318
Total93.77,9921012

Note: See statistical table S8 for detailed statistics.

Queensland

Key species groups: prawns (wild catch, aquaculture), coral trout (wild catch), barramundi (aquaculture)

The gross value of Queensland fishery and aquaculture production increased by 6 per cent in 2016–17 to $309 million (Figure 8). GVP increased in wild-caught fisheries but declined for the aquaculture sector.

Wild catch

The gross value of Queensland wild-catch fisheries increased by 10 per cent in 2016–17 to $193 million. This was driven by a significant rise in wild-caught prawn catch. The increase in prawn volume reflected higher fishing effort during 2016–17.

The value of Queensland wild-caught prawn catch increased by 26 per cent to $79 million and was largely comprised of king prawns ($43 million) followed by tiger prawns ($25 million). In contrast, the value of scallop production declined by 18 per cent to around $2.5 million reflecting a decline in production volume.

Between 2006–07 and 2016–17 the value of wild-caught production declined by 26 per cent. Much of this decline was the result of a lower finfish catch value.

Aquaculture

Queensland aquaculture GVP decreased by 1 per cent in 2016–17 to $116.5 million. This was largely the result of a 3 per cent decline in prawn production value to $78 million. Queensland aquaculture fluctuated in both value and volume over the past decade as a result of volatile prawn production volume and value in response to variable global market conditions and import competition. Aquaculture barramundi production grew over the period in response to increases in demand for seafood.

FIGURE 8 Queensland fisheries and aquaculture production value by sector, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.
TABLE 4 Queensland fisheries and aquaculture production by sector, 2016–17
SectorValueVolumeValue changeVolume change
($ million)(tonnes)(%)(%)
Wild catch192.919,867103
Aquaculture116.57,869–11
Total309.427,73663

Note: See statistical table S9 for detailed statistics.

South Australia

Key species groups: southern rock lobster (wild catch), southern bluefin tuna (aquaculture), prawns (wild catch)

The gross value of SA fishery and aquaculture production fell by 6 per cent to $484 million in 2016–17 (Figure 9).

Wild catch

SA wild-catch fishery GVP decreased by 4 per cent in 2016–17 to $253 million. A decline in production value of rock lobster and Australian sardine more than offset an increase in wild-caught abalone production value. The decline in rock lobster production value was largely the result of a decline in average price while the production value of Australian sardine (which are used as input to farmed southern bluefin tuna production) declined as a result of both lower catch volume and lower average prices. In contrast, wild-caught abalone production value increased by 24 per cent to $28 million, reflecting an increase in catch.

Aquaculture

The value of SA aquaculture fishery production was volatile between 2006–07 and 2016–17. This stemmed from the aquaculture production mix being dominated by southern bluefin tuna—a product strongly linked to the export market. Most tuna exported from South Australia is destined for Japan so the farmgate value of tuna is affected by volatility in the Japanese exchange rate.

FIGURE 9 SA fisheries and aquaculture production value by sector, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.
TABLE 5 SA fisheries and aquaculture production by sector, 2016–17
SectorValueVolumeValue changeVolume change
($ million)(tonnes)(%)(%)
Wild catch253.149,488–4–2
Aquaculture230.521,480–8–6
Total483.670,967–6–3

Note: See statistical table S10 for detailed statistics.

Western Australia

Key species groups: western rock lobster (wild catch), pearls (aquaculture), prawns (wild catch).

In 2016–17 the gross value of WA fishery and aquaculture production increased by 5 per cent to $620 million, while production volume increased by 12 per cent to 23,818 tonnes (Figure 10). The gross value of Western Australian fisheries production is dominated by wild-catch fisheries, which averaged 78 per cent of the total value over the period 2006–07 to 2016–17.

Wild catch

The gross value of WA wild-catch fisheries increased by 5 per cent in 2016–17 to $530 million. The value of scallop production in 2016–17 more than tripled to $15 million. Rock lobster is the single most significant contributor to WA wild-catch fisheries contributing 76 per cent of total wild-caught production value. In 2016–17 the value of rock lobster production increased by 2 per cent to $401 million, reflecting an increase in production volume more than offsetting a decline in average price.

Aquaculture

The gross value of WA aquaculture production increased by 1 per cent in 2016–17 to $90 million. Aquaculture finfish production (largely barramundi) more than doubled to $13 million, while the value of pearl production declined by 10 per cent to $70 million. The gross value of WA trended downward from 2006–07 to 2016–17.

FIGURE 10 WA fisheries and aquaculture production value by sector, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.
TABLE 6 WA fisheries and aquaculture production by sector, 2016–17
SectorValueVolumeValue changeVolume change
($ million)(tonnes)(%)(%)
Wild catch529.5 22,31659
Aquaculture90.51,5021110
Total620.023,818512

Note: See statistical table S11 for detailed statistics.

Tasmania

Key species groups: salmonids (aquaculture), southern rock lobster (wild catch), abalone (wild catch)

The gross value of Tasmanian fishery and aquaculture production increased by 4 per cent in 2016–17 to $947 million (Figure 11). Tasmanian fishery production has continued its increasing trend, driven by an expanding aquaculture industry.

Wild catch

The gross value of production for Tasmanian wild-catch fisheries decreased by 4 per cent in 2016–17 to $176 million. The two most valuable wild-caught species in Tasmania are rock lobster and abalone. The value of rock lobster production declined because of lower catch and a fall in average unit values. In contrast, the value of wild-caught abalone production increased by 5 per cent to $84 million, reflecting an increase in average price.

Aquaculture

The gross value of Tasmanian aquaculture production increased by 6 per cent in 2016–17 to $771 million. Salmonids are the major aquaculture product of Tasmania, accounting for 96 per cent of total aquaculture production value in 2016–17. Despite salmonid production volume falling 6 per cent to 51,298 tonnes, value increased by 5 per cent to $739 million. A global supply shortage in 2016 because of production issues in major producers Norway and Chile resulted in international prices rising in 2015–16 and 2016–17. In turn, Tasmanian salmonid prices increased by 12 per cent in 2016–17 to around $14 a kilogram—the highest level in real terms since 2007–08.

FIGURE 11 Tasmanian fisheries and aquaculture production by sector, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.
TABLE 7 Tasmanian fisheries and aquaculture production by sector, 2016–17
SectorValueVolumeValue changeVolume change
($ million)(tonnes)(%)(%)
Wild catch175.93,620–4–23
Aquaculture770.9 55,1196–6
Total946.958,7394–7

Note: See statistical table S12 for detailed statistics.

Northern Territory

Key species groups: pearls (aquaculture), mackerel (wild catch), goldband snapper (wild catch), crabs (wild catch), barramundi (wild catch, aquaculture).

The gross value of production of NT fisheries and aquaculture increased by 32 per cent in 2016–17 to $78 million (Figure 12). In 2016–17 the gross value of NT annual fishery production was 15 per cent higher in real terms compared with 2006–07. This was the result of a $7 million (2016–17 dollars) increase in wild-caught production and a $3 million (2016–17 dollars) increase in aquaculture production value.

Wild catch

The gross value of the NT wild-catch sector increased by 26 per cent in 2016–17 to $44 million. This was largely the result of an increase in the production value of crabs, mackerel and goldband snapper. The gross value of the NT wild-catch sector increased by 20 per cent between 2006–07 and 2016–17. This was the result of an increase in the production value of finfish more than offsetting declines in the production value of crabs and molluscs.

Aquaculture

The value of aquaculture production in the Northern Territory increased by 40 per cent in 2016–17 to $34 million. The species value of production breakdown cannot be provided for 2016–17 because of confidentiality requirements.

FIGURE 12 NT fisheries and aquaculture production value by sector, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.
TABLE 8 NT fisheries and aquaculture production by sector, 2016–17
SectorValueVolumeValue changeVolume change
($ million)(tonnes)(%)(%)
Wild catch43.96,7222610
Aquaculture 34.4na40na
Total78.3na3210

na Not available.
Note: See statisical table S12 for detailed statistics.

Commonwealth

Key species groups: prawns (wild catch), tuna (wild catch), sharks (wild catch).

The gross value of Commonwealth fisheries production declined by 8 per cent in 2016–17 to $403 million, largely as a result of lower prawn and finfish production value (Figure 13).

Species

Prawns remained the most valuable species caught in Commonwealth fisheries in 2016–17 despite production value declining by 10 per cent to $117 million. The decline in production value was largely the result of a change in catch composition in the Northern Prawn Fishery, from relatively higher unit value tiger prawns to relatively lower unit value banana prawns.

The value of tuna production decreased by 14 per cent in 2016–17 to $64 million, largely reflecting a decline in production value of tuna in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery more than offsetting and increase in the gross value of production in the Southern Bluefin Tuna Fishery. Finfish other than tuna made the largest contribution to Commonwealth fishery production value but declined by 8 per cent to $191 million.

Molluscs make a relatively minor contribution to Commonwealth fishery GVP but in 2016–17 mollusc production value increased to its highest level in real terms since 1999–2000. This was the result of a 30 per cent increase in the value of scallop production in the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery.

FIGURE 13 Commonwealth fisheries production value, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.
TABLE 9 Commonwealth fisheries production by species, 2016–17
SectorValueVolumeValue changeVolume change
($ million)(tonnes)(%)(%)
Prawns117.37,401–101
Tuna64.28,528–14–16
Lobster12.9283–10–25
Other species209.032,380–5–17
Total403.448,592–8–14

Note: See table S14 for detailed statistics.

​​
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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