Australian fisheries and aquaculture production 2018
GVP increases by 4% in 2017–18 to $3.18 billion
The gross value of production (GVP) of Australian fisheries and aquaculture increased by 4% to $3.18 billion in 2017–18. Total production volume increased by 4% to 265,975 tonnes in 2017–18 (Figure 1, above).
Higher volumes of Salmonids, predominantly Atlantic Salmon produced in Tasmania’s Salmonids aquaculture industry, combined with increased landings of several wild-caught species and higher export unit values for Western Rock Lobster and Southern Rock Lobster and Abalone accounted for most of the growth in GVP in 2017–18.
Wild-catch GVP increased by 3% to $1.79 billion, accounting for 56% of total GVP in 2017–18. In the same year, wild-catch volume increased by 4% to 173,430 tonnes, accounting for 64% of total fisheries and aquaculture production volume. Higher catch of Australian Sardines (2,531 tonnes higher, 6% increase from 2016–17), Scallops (1,633 tonnes higher, a 27% increase from 2016–17) and Tunas (651 tonnes higher, an 8% increase from 2016–17) contributed most to higher wild-catch landings in 2017–18.
GVP of aquaculture increased by 5% to $1.42 billion in 2017–18—the fourth consecutive rise since 2013–14, lifting the sector’s contribution to 44% of total GVP. Production volume of aquaculture increased by 4% to 97,406 tonnes in the same year, accounting for 36% of total fisheries and aquaculture production—up from 26% a decade earlier. The three highest producing states in terms of total GVP (wild-catch and aquaculture) in 2017–18 were:
- Tasmania ($1,068 million, a 13% increase from 2016–17)
- Western Australia ($634 million, a 2% increase from 2016–17)
- South Australia ($470 million, a 3% decrease from 2016–17).
These three jurisdictions together accounted for 68% of total GVP in 2017–18.
The three most valuable species groups (wild-catch and aquaculture) in 2017–18 were:
- Salmonids ($855 million, a 13% increase from 2016–17)
- Rock Lobsters ($713 million, a 8% increase from 2016–17)
- Prawns ($361 million, a 9% decrease from 2016–17).
These three species groups together accounted for 61% of total GVP in 2017–18.
As fisheries products move through the supply chain to final consumption additional value is created through value adding, beyond the economic impacts derived from GVP alone. The overall value added by the seafood sector to the Australian economy has been recently estimated to amount to $5.3 billion (BDO Econsearch & IMAS 2019).
Wild-catch fisheries recovering after steep declines in early 2000s
In 2017–18 the GVP of wild-catch fisheries (including state and Commonwealth) was $1.79 billion—a 3% increase from the previous financial year, continuing a period of growth that commenced in 2012–13 (Figure 2). The increase in GVP since 2012–13 is largely due to the increasing value of Rock Lobsters.
The three most valuable wild-catch jurisdictions in 2017–18, in terms of GVP, were:
- Western Australia ($554 million, a 5% increase from 2016–17)
- Commonwealth ($390 million, 3% decrease from 2016–17).
- South Australia ($264 million, 4% increase from 2016–17).
The three most valuable wild–caught species in 2017–18 were:
- Rock Lobsters ($713 million, a 8% increase from 2016–17)
- Prawns ($280 million, a 10% decrease from 2016–17)
- Abalone ($151 million, a 6% increase from 2016–17).
Growing demand for Rock Lobsters (largely for Western Rock Lobster and Southern Rock Lobster) in China and an industry focus on direct exports of live products to that market have resulted in higher unit prices in recent years. Moreover, increased total allowable catch (TAC) of Western Rock Lobster since 2012–13, and the scaling down of tariffs for direct exports of Rock Lobsters to China following the introduction of the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), has resulted in higher volume of exports of Rock Lobsters, which has flowed through to higher GVP from this species. The ChAFTA eliminated tariffs on Australian seafood in 2019. Since 2015 tariffs for Rock Lobsters and Abalone, amongst a number of other species, steadily declined and are now zero for products exported to China. For more information on the ChAFTA see Exports by destination.
The decline in wild-caught GVP from 2000–01 to 2011–12 was driven by Australia’s exchange rate appreciation over the period, structural change in the sector to achieve more sustainable wild-caught fisheries and adverse environmental and disease factors that affected the availability of some species, as well as adjustment to changing commodity demand patterns in the global market. In volume terms the sector most affected by these changes has been the Finfish sector, where volumes produced declined by 35% over the period 2004–05 to 2014–15, with declines across a broad range of species landed, particularly from Commonwealth fisheries. Structural adjustment in Commonwealth fisheries through the 2005–06 Commonwealth Securing Our Fishing Future structural adjustment package resulted in a number of vessels exiting the industry.
Growth in the global aquaculture industry has also contributed to the declining relative value of the wild-catch sector, as a result of increasing import competition from this sector in the domestic market. The global growth of aquaculture-produced species in Asia during this period may have negatively affected prices for some Finfish and Prawn species through increased competition from these products in the domestic market. In the domestic market, the rise of the Salmonids industry (largely Atlantic Salmon) has also provided competition for wild-caught Finfish products.
Between 2011–12 and 2017–18 the value of wild-caught production increased by around $327 million in real terms (2017–18 dollars). Much of this growth was the result of Rock Lobsters production value which increased by $270 million in real terms (2017–18 dollars) over the same period to $713 million. In 2017–18 around 40% of the Australian wild-caught sector GVP was attributable to Rock Lobsters. Rock Lobsters are a family of species that have a high unit value with high export demand from China (Pereira & Josupeit 2017). Rock Lobsters are caught across several fishery jurisdictions, however GVP is largely attributable to three: Western Australia (predominantly Western Rock Lobster, production value of $438 million in 2017–18), South Australia (production value of $123 million in 2017–18) and Tasmania (predominantly Southern Rock Lobster, production value of $97 million in 2017–18).
Aquaculture’s growing contribution
In 2017–18 the GVP of Australia’s aquaculture sector was $1.42 billion—a 5% increase from 2016–17. This result reinforces the increasing trend over the last two decades that has resulted in incrementally higher value and volume of production from the aquaculture sector (Figure 3). Falls in production volume during this extended period of growth have been largely attributed to occasional disease outbreaks or adverse seasonal growing conditions. In recent years, disease outbreaks have impacted on production volumes of Salmonids, Oysters and Prawns, resulting in some volatility of total production value. Despite these setbacks, the aquaculture sector has increased its overall contribution to Australian fisheries and aquaculture GVP from 29% in 1999–2000 to 44% in 2017–18.
The three most valuable aquaculture-producing states in 2017–18 were:
- Tasmania ($874 million of GVP, a 13% increase from 2016–17)
- South Australia ($206 million, a 11% decrease from 2016–17)
- Queensland ($114 million, a 2% decrease from 2016–17).
The three most valuable aquaculture species in 2017–18 were:
- Salmonids ($855 million, a 13% increase from 2016–17)
- Tunas ($126 million, a 10% increase from 2016–17)
- Oysters ($102 million, a 9% decrease from 2016–17).
In 2017–18 the Tasmanian aquaculture sector accounted for 62% of Australia’s aquaculture production value. Salmonids comprised around 96% of Tasmania’s aquaculture production value (98% of the GVP of Australia’s Salmonids originated from Tasmania and 100% of this species group is aquaculture produced). For more information on Salmonids see Tasmania.
The Southern Bluefin Tuna aquaculture sector accounted for 9% of Australia’s aquaculture production value in 2017–18. 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. When fattened, the ranched Southern Bluefin Tuna gains significant value (Mobsby & Curtotti 2019). A generally declining share of Southern Bluefin Tuna has been ranched in recent years while there has been an increase in catch from eastern Australia (predominantly caught by the Commonwealth Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery fleet). It is uncertain whether this represents a long-term shift in the pattern of catch in the fishery (Patterson et al 2019).
Oysters accounted for 7% of Australia’s aquaculture production value. In 2017–18, 51% of Oysters GVP was produced in New South Wales ($51.8 million) and the remainder from Tasmania ($28.7 million), South Australia ($20.2 million) and Queensland ($900,000).
Aquaculture Prawns GVP was $80.5 million in 2017–18, accounting for 6% of aquaculture GVP in that year. In 2017–18 the GVP of aquaculture Prawns decreased by 6% and production decreased by 9% as the industry recovered from White Spot Disease, which led to the destocking of prawn farms in the Logan River region of southern Queensland in 2016–17. Most aquaculture-produced Prawns are from Queensland. There are significant plans for expansion of the aquaculture Prawns industry in coming years. For example, Tassal is planning to expand their Gregory River prawn farm to reach an annual production of 20,000 tonnes of Prawns (ABC 2019). There is also a large scale project to build a large scale prawn farm in northern Australia for the export market (SBS 2019).
Other fast-growing sectors for the aquaculture sector are Barramundi and Abalone, which achieved a farmgate value of $54 million and $44 million in 2017–18 respectively. These two species together accounted for 7% of the farmgate value of aquaculture in 2017–18.
GVP by jurisdiction and location of catch
Of all Australian jurisdictions Tasmania had the largest GVP in 2017–18, accounting for 33% of total fishery production value, followed by Western Australia (20%) and South Australia (15%). Percentages are calculated based on the sum of gross jurisdictional production values, which have not been adjusted for Tunas caught in the Southern Bluefin Tuna Fishery and ranched in SA farms.
Between 1998–99 and 2017–18 Tasmanian production volume increases have been the main driver of growth in GVP. Tasmania’s fisheries and aquaculture GVP more than doubled between 1998–99 and 2017–18 with the expansion of the aquaculture industry.
By location of catch—where Commonwealth catch is distributed to the states according to where it was caught—Tasmania accounted for the largest share value (34%), followed by Western Australia (20%), South Australia (15%), Queensland (12%), New South Wales (7%), Victoria (5%) and Northern Territory (4%).
New South Wales—GVP rises by 11% in 2017–18
The GVP of New South Wales fisheries and aquaculture production increased by 11% in 2017–18 to $170.2 million as a result of growth in both the wild-caught and aquaculture sectors (Figure 7).
In 2017–18 the GVP of New South Wales wild-catch fishery production increased by 11% to $99.5 million. Finfish contributed 46% of total New South Wales wild-caught GVP in 2017–18, with the most valuable species being Sea Mullet and Eastern School Whiting, both of which experienced an increase in GVP. Sea Mullet GVP increased by 26% to $10.2 million and Eastern School Whiting GVP increased by 80% to $5.0 million; the increase in GVP for both species was influenced by increased price and catch volume. Abalone GVP increased by 50% to $5.5 million, despite an 11% decline in catch volume. A significant unit price increase for Abalone during the year was driven by growing demand for wild-caught Abalone in China. For more information on Abalone trade in China see Exports by destination.
The GVP of New South Wales aquaculture increased by 9% in 2017–18 to $70.7 million. Aquaculture Oysters (largely Sydney Rock Oyster) production made the most significant contribution to the rise in value, increasing by 14% to $51.8 million—the highest value since 2003–04. The price of Oysters increased from $12.0 per kilogram in 2016–17 to $14.5 per kilogram in 2017–18. The increase in the price of Oysters is likely due to a shortage in South Australia production. For more information on South Australia Oysters production see South Australia.
Victoria—GVP rises by 19% in 2017–18
The GVP of Victorian fisheries and aquaculture increased by 19% in 2017–18 to $111.0 million from $93.7 million in 2016–17 (Figure 8).
This was mainly due to increases in the value of both wild-catch and aquaculture Abalone.
In 2017–18 wild-catch GVP increased by 15% to $62.8 million, with almost all of this growth attributed to higher GVP of Abalone. GVP of wild-caught Abalone increased 31% to $26.9 million driven in large part by higher unit prices, which increased by 24% to $35.6 per kilogram in 2017–18 as a result of strong demand in the Chinese market. In 2017–18 Victorian wild-caught fisheries production was dominated by Abalone and Rock Lobsters (predominantly Southern Rock Lobster), which together comprised 80% of GVP. For more information on Abalone trade in China see Exports by destination.
The GVP of Victorian aquaculture increased by 23% in 2017–18 to $48.3 million, with almost all of this growth being attributed to higher GVP of Abalone. In 2017–18 Abalone GVP increased by 42% to $25.2 million, reaching its highest level in real terms. However, in 2017–18 the value of Salmonids slightly decreased by 6% to a value of $13.7 million, due to a decrease in production volume. Since 2008–09 aquaculture GVP has generally increased due to growth in the value of Salmonids and Abalone. In 2017–18 Victorian aquaculture production was dominated by Abalone and Salmonids (predominantly Rainbow Trout), which together comprised 81% of GVP.
Queensland—GVP declines by 5% in 2017–18
The GVP of Queensland fishery and aquaculture decreased by 5% in 2017–18. GVP declined in both the aquaculture and wild- catch sectors (Figure 9).
The GVP of wild-catch fisheries in Queensland decreased by 7% in 2017–18 to $180.2 million. This was mostly driven by a decrease in the landed volumes of Prawns and Coral Trouts. The aggregated wild-caught GVP of Prawns, comprising mainly King Prawns, Tiger Prawns, Banana Prawns and Endeavour Prawns, decreased by 12%. The value of Coral Trouts decreased by 2% to $27.1 million in 2017–18 as a result of decreased catch. In 2017–18 Queensland wild-caught production was dominated by Prawns and Coral Trouts, which together comprised 54% of GVP.
Queensland aquaculture GVP decreased by 2% in 2017–18 to $114.2 million. This was largely due to a 4% decline in the GVP of Prawns (including Black Tiger Prawns, Banana Prawns and Eastern King Prawns) to $74.7 million—down from $77.8 million in 2016–17; and lower production value of Barramundi, which declined by $1.5 million to $26.9 million. Prawns are Queensland’s biggest contributor to the aquaculture sector. The volume of aquaculture Prawns harvested for commercial purposes declined by 8% from 4,264 tonnes in 2016–17 to 3,921 tonnes in 2017–18. In 2016–17 prawn farms in the Logan River region of southern Queensland were destocked following an outbreak of White Spot Disease (McCarthy 2016; Mobsby & Curtotti 2019), with industry still rebuilding in 2017–18. In 2017–18 Queensland aquaculture production was dominated by Prawns and Barramundi, which together comprised 89% of GVP.
Queensland Barramundi aquaculture growing
Barramundi was Queensland’s second largest contributor to GVP from aquaculture, with a farmgate value of $26.9 million in 2017–18. Since 2001–02 the volume and value of the Barramundi aquaculture sector in Queensland has significantly increased (Figure 10). Catch of Barramundi from the wild-caught sector has been between 700 tonnes and 1,500 tonnes (Figure 10).
According to Business Queensland (2016), Barramundi is largely marketed towards domestic wholesalers and supermarket chains. The increase in Barramundi production in Queensland may be attributed to expansions of pond-based operations and the improvements in productivity and efficiency within the industry. Barramundi itself is a tropical species and, for that reason, most Barramundi aquaculture farms are in northern Australia (Business Queensland 2016).
South Australia—GVP declines by 3% in 2017–18
In 2017–18 the GVP of South Australian fisheries and aquaculture decreased by 3% to $469.7 million (Figure 11). This decline resulted mainly from an 11% fall in the value of aquaculture production.
South Australian wild-catch GVP increased by 4% in 2017–18 to $264.0 million. This was driven by increases in catch and price for a number species. Catch of Prawns increased by 6% to 2,577 tonnes and value increased by 11% to $51.2 million. Of the wild-caught finfish species, Australian Sardines made the largest contribution to GVP, increasing by 11% in value in 2017–18 to $26.4 million. Australian Sardines are predominantly used as feed for Tunas produced by SA Southern Bluefin Tuna ranching sector (Econsearch 2018). Australian Sardines have a low unit value but are caught in large volumes. In 2017–18 Australian Sardines accounted for 82% of the 52,833 tonnes of wild-caught production. In 2017–18 South Australian wild-caught production value was dominated by Southern Rock Lobster and Prawns, which together comprised 66% of GVP.
In 2017–18 the South Australian aquaculture GVP was $205.7 million—an 11% decline from 2016–17. A leading factor in the decline of Aquaculture GVP in South Australia was the volume of Oysters (predominantly Pacific Oyster) produced in 2017–18. The volume of Oysters produced declined by 58% in 2017–18 to 2,177 tonnes. As a result, in 2017–18 the GVP of Oysters halved from 2016–17 levels to $20.2 million. The decline in production is due to the outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) diseases in Tasmania in 2016. While South Australia is classified as POMS free, the South Australian Oyster industry is heavily reliant on spat grown in Tasmania, meaning that production has been limited since the POMS outbreak (Nogrady 2019). Southern Bluefin Tuna accounts for 61% of aquaculture GVP, with a production value of $126.0 million. Southern Bluefin Tuna is ranched off the coast of Port Lincoln and is mostly exported to the Japanese market as a high-value product (DA 2015).
Western Australia—GVP rises by 2% in 2017–18
In 2017–18 the GVP of Western Australia fisheries and aquaculture increased by 2% to $633.7 million (Figure 12). The GVP of WA fisheries production is dominated by wild-catch fisheries, which averaged 77% of total GVP from 1998–99 to 2017–18.
The GVP of Western Australia wild-catch fisheries increased by 5% in 2017–18 to $554.5 million. Western Rock Lobster is the single most significant contributor to Western Australia wild-catch fisheries GVP, contributing 79% of total wild-caught production value in 2017–18. In 2017–18 the value of Western Rock Lobster increased by 9% to $438.1 million, reflecting an increase in production volume and offsetting a slight decline in average unit prices. The Western Rock Lobster industry is highly export oriented with China being the main export destination. The increase in production in financial year terms was due to an increase in TAC as well as the distribution of the catch across the full calendar year. Generally catch is highest in the first couple of months of the calendar year, coinciding with Lunar New Year.
The GVP of Western Australia aquaculture decreased by 12% in 2017–18 to $79.2 million. Pearls are the most valuable aquaculture product produced in Western Australia; however, the contribution to aquaculture GVP has declined in absolute and relative terms. In the 10 years to 2017–18, the real value (in 2017–18 dollars) of pearl GVP fell from $141.2 million to $52.6 million and its contribution to aquaculture production value fell from 92% to 66%. Aquaculture in Western Australia has further potential for growth as a result of recent announcements regarding the creation of two new aquaculture zones in the Kimberly and the state’s Mid West and a hatchery in Albany. Such measures facilitate the setting up and expansion of aquaculture operations.
Ballot’s Saucer Scallops in Western Australia recovering after heatwave
GVP and produced volume of Ballot’s Saucer Scallops in Western Australia are recovering back toward pre-2011–12 levels following an extreme marine heatwave event in 2011. The heatwave affected the waters of Western Australia and resulted in the closure of Abrolhos Island and Shark Bay Scallop Fisheries (Caputi, Jackson & Pearce 2014). This heatwave caused GVP to decrease from $17.2 million in 2010–11 to $0.98 million in 2011–12. Similarly, in 2010–11, 3,060 tonnes of Ballot’s Saucer Scallops were harvested; this declined to 158 tonnes in 2011–12.
As Ballot’s Saucer Scallops stocks have recovered and fisheries have reopened, production volume increased from the low of 158 tonnes in 2011–12 to 1,915 tonnes in 2016–17 and 2,243 tonnes in 2017–18. GVP increased to $15.6 million in 2016–17 before declining to $13.1 million in 2017–18. The average unit price of Ballot’s Saucer Scallops declined in 2017–18, reflecting ongoing stock recovery and markets adjusting to higher production volumes.
Tasmania—GVP rises by 13% in 2017–18
The GVP for Tasmanian fisheries and aquaculture increased by 13% in 2017–18 to $1.07 billion (Figure 14). Contributing to the increase in 2017–18 was further growth of the aquaculture sector, where GVP increased by 13% to reach $873.5 million; and the wild-caught sector, where GVP increased by 10% to reach $194.3 million.
Tasmanian wild-catch GVP increased by 10% to $194.3 million in 2017–18. Abalone and Southern Rock Lobster remained the two most valuable species in the wild-caught sector. Southern Rock Lobster production value increased by 17% to $97.1 million as result of higher catch and increased average prices. In contrast, Abalone catch decreased in 2017–18 due to reductions in TAC. However, GVP increased by 3% to $86.4 million, reflecting an increase in average prices and demand for Abalone.
Tasmania has recently introduced a new seaweed fishery. While only a minor contributor to GVP at present, the sector may grow in importance over time (see Feature story: Australian seaweed production).
The GVP of aquaculture in Tasmania increased by 13% to $873.5 million in 2017–18. Salmonids are the major aquaculture product of Tasmania, accounting for 96% of total aquaculture production in that state. In 2017–18 Salmonids production value increased by 13% to $838.3 million, which was driven by a 17% increase in production volume. The increase in production volume was likely partially due to destocking of Tasmania’s Macquarie Harbour in late 2017 because of an outbreak of Pilchard Orthomyxovirus (POMV) (Street & Dunlevie 2018). In 2017–18 aquaculture Abalone had the highest relative production value increase (up 36% on 2016–17) and the Abalone aquaculture industry expanded, supported by higher prices (reflecting continued demand for Abalone from the Chinese market).
Northern Territory—GVP decreases by 6% in 2017–18
The GVP of Northern Territory fisheries and aquaculture decreased by 6% in 2017–18 to $73.4 million (Figure 16). This was largely the result of a 26% fall in aquaculture production value. In contrast, GVP from NT wild-caught fisheries increased by 9% to $47.8 million.
The GVP of the Northern Territory wild-catch sector increased by 9% in 2017–18 to $47.8 million. This was largely the result of a 66% increase in GVP of Crabs from the Mud Crab Fishery. This increase was the result of a 69% increase in production volume (from 192 tonnes in 2016–17 to 324 tonnes in 2017–18) more than offsetting a slight decline in average price.
The value of aquaculture production in the Northern Territory decreased by 26% in 2017–18 to $25.6 million. In 2017–18 the value of aquaculture Barramundi was $22.8 million. Since the late 1990s Barramundi aquaculture has expanded due to advances in technology and economies of scale. In 2017–18, 2,342 tonnes of Barramundi were produced in the aquaculture sector—up from 699 tonnes in 2009–10—indicating continued demand for Barramundi. Production values of other aquaculture species and products (for example Pearls from Pearl Oyster aquaculture) generally cannot be provided because of confidentiality requirements. Pearls from Pearl Oyster aquaculture contribute significantly to the value of aquaculture production in the Northern Territory.
Commonwealth fisheries—GVP declines by 3% in 2017–18
Commonwealth fisheries are exclusively wild-catch. The GVP of Commonwealth fisheries production declined by 3% in 2017–18 to $390 million, owing in large part to lower landings of wild-caught Prawns (Figure 17). For more information on Australian fishery jurisdiction management see Economic geography in Australian fisheries and aquaculture statistics.
Finfish other than Tunas made the largest contribution to Commonwealth fishery production value in 2017–18. More than 100 commercially targeted species are accounted for in this category, with a combined catch value of $189.0 million.
Despite a 14% decrease in production value in 2017–18, Prawns remained the second most valuable species group produced in Commonwealth fisheries (after other Finfish), with an aggregated GVP of $102.2 million. The Northern Prawn Fishery and Torres Strait Prawn Fishery are the two primary fisheries that harvest Prawns in Commonwealth-managed fisheries. The Northern Prawn Fishery’s GVP decreased by 17% to $98.2 million, which was largely the result of a decrease in volume catch of Tiger Prawns. Tiger Prawns catch reached 3,258 tonnes in 2015–16 (the highest since 1994–95) but subsequently declined to 2,000 tonnes in 2016–17 and then to 1,091 tonnes in 2017–18.
The GVP of Tunas increased by 4% in 2017–18 to $66.8 million, reflecting an increase in GVP of Southern Bluefin Tuna (from the Southern Bluefin Tuna Fishery) and Yellowfin Tuna (from the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery).