Sector Profile

The aquaculture sector can generally be described as having business 'smart', value-adding ventures, with larger enterprises processing, packaging and branding their own produce. The sector is currently dominated by Atlantic Salmon with significant contributions from pearl, oyster and prawn producers and by the ranching of Southern Bluefin Tuna. 

Increased consumer demand for Australian-produced seafood is driving industry growth and creating opportunities to integrate production from the 'hatchery' through to consumers. Aquaculture is on course to be the major provider of seafood.

Aquaculture in this country is in a position to capitalise on progress in breeding and disease management, and from associated technological advances that can increase yield while reducing environmental impact. Improved production techniques also have the potential to 'grow' seafood with the smallest use of environmental resources of any primary production sector.

Of major consideration for Australian aquaculture is its ability to make its end product affordable and economical, both domestically and internationally. The cost of production has been relatively high in Australia compared to other countries. Advanced techniques and technologies have the potential to reduce how much it costs to make Australian aquaculture a more competitive industry.

Aquatic animal health remains a challenge for this sector, with disease outbreaks continuing to be a major risk and there is a need for further research on disease diagnostic capability, surveillance and treatment.

A major impediment to the increase of aquaculture is access to suitable production areas (both land and water). This is mostly a concern in coastal regions close to residential areas, where conflict can arise between the industry, local communities and recreational users of the waterways. Lack of support from some sections of the community is a major factor impacting access to suitable locations. Further research is needed to understand and evaluate the interactions between aquaculture, local users, communities and other fishing and aquaculture sectors.

Certification processes are being used in aquaculture to promote environmental and production credentials, and build consumer and societal trust. Those in aquaculture believe that achieving such credentials will improve public perceptions of this sector.

Sector Statistics (2012-13)

  • Gross production value of $1.03 billion
  • Gross production volume of 80 066 tonnes
  • Sector accounts for 43% gross fisheries production value & 35% gross fisheries production volume
  • Top Species (in order of production value): salmonids, tuna, edible oysters, prawns
  • Jurisdictions (in order of production value): TAS ($520m), SA ($243m), WA ($96m), QLD ($82m), NSW ($48m), NT ($24m), VIC ($21m)

Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing primary industry sectors and continues to be an important part of Australian fisheries production. Over the decade from 2002-03 to 2012-13 aquaculture production has almost doubled from 44 059 tonnes to 80 066 tonnes, accounting for 35 per cent of Australian fisheries and aquaculture production.

The gross value of aquaculture production in 2012-13 was $1.03 billion, and accounted for 43 per cent of the gross value of Australian fisheries production. The most valuable aquaculture species to be farmed were salmonids, (salmon and trout).

Together they accounted for 48 per cent of the total value of Australian aquaculture production and 21 per cent of the total value of fisheries and aquaculture production.

The second most valuable aquaculture species was farmed tuna, with the value of farmed tuna production in South Australia rising by $4 million (2 per cent) between 2011–12 and 2012–13, to $154 million.

An extra billion consumers globally are expected by 2030, needing an estimated additional 25 million tonnes of seafood. With limited room for expansion in wild catch fisheries most of the additional supply will have to come from aquaculture.

To ensure that aquaculture continues to develop, we need significant investments to secure land and water resources, production technologies, supply chain development, value-adding marketing and promotion, and people development.

For more information on Australian aquaculture statistics see the Australian fisheries and aquaculture statistics 2013

Representative Organisation

The FRDC is accountable under the Primary Industries Research and Development Act (PIRD Act) to representative bodies nominated by the responsible Minister.

The FRDC has four representative organisations with which it consults.

  • Australian Recreational and Sport Fishing Industry Confederation Inc. (trading as Recfish Australia)
  • National Aquaculture Council Inc. (NAC).
  • Commonwealth Fisheries Association Inc. (CFA).
  • National Seafood Industry Alliance (NSIA).

The National Aquaculture Council (NAC) is the peak body representing the aquaculture industry across Australia