Aquaculture in Australia
Introduction to Mariculture
Aquaculture is the farming of freshwater and saltwater organisms such as fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants. In this unit, I will concentrate on Marine aquaculture also known as Mariculture. Marine Aquaculture involves growing then harvesting marine organisms under controlled conditions usually in sheltered coastal waters. This unit contains general information about mariculture in Australia and information relevant to each state and the Northern Territory.
This unit has been developed to provide the public and students with a comprehensive, easy to understand guide to Mariculture in Australia. Whilst there is a lot of information available much of it is contained in complex technical reports and on hard to find industry websites. We hope that you find this guide useful and interesting.
The importance of mariculture to Australia
Aquaculture is the fastest growing primary industry in Australia and the world. The world’s population is growing faster than the supply of fish. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, most of the world’s fisheries are either fully exploited or over exploited and consequently any further increases in global consumption of seafood must be met by aquaculture. In 2004, aquaculture provided about 43% of global seafood consumed (FAO, 2006). This figure increased from 26% in 1996. The Australian aquaculture industry in 2003-04 was valued at $732 million, about one third of the total dollar production of the seafood industry.
Australian aquaculture producers need to follow a range of federal, state and local government environmental laws and codes of practice that ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry and environment.
In 2007-08 Australia exported $1.3billion worth of fisheries
products, headed by rock lobster, pearls, abalone, tuna and
The top five export destinations were Hong Kong, Japan,
America, Chinese Taipei and Singapore.
In the same period, Australia imported $1.4billion worth of fisheries
products, headed by $257 million worth of canned fish, $228 million
worth of frozen fish fillets, $167 million worth of prawns, $166 million of
pearls and $128 million of canned crustaceans and molluscs.
The top five import sources were Thailand, New Zealand,
Vietnam, China and Malaysia. The import value of seafood
from Vietnam and China has increased sharply in recent
(Source, ABARE Economics Australian Fisheries Statistics
The Australian Seafood Importers Association estimates that
70% of seafood consumed in Australia is imported,
while the Prawn Association estimates 50 per cent of prawns
eaten in Australia are imported.
In 1999, the seafood industry together with the Australian Government set a ‘vision’ and ‘mission’ for aquaculture industry in Australia.
Aquaculture is established throughout Australia, from the tropical north to the cooler southern waters. The aquaculture industry is largely based in regional Australia and makes an important contribution to regional development. A report published in 1999 estimated that more than 7,000 direct and 20,000 indirect jobs were created in aquaculture industry.
"By 2010 a sustainable, vibrant and rapidly growing Australian aquaculture industry will achieve at least $2.5 billion in annual sales by being the world's most globally competitive aquaculture producer".
'Total commitment to economic, social and environmental benefits from aquaculture.'
Reference: Aquaculture Industry – Overview, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia.
Next: What marine species are farmed in Australia?