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Aquaculture is now the largest sector of the seafood industry

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Australia’s aquaculture sector is continuing on a trajectory of steady growth, but the industry has experienced disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest edition of ABARES’ Australian Fisheries and Aquaculture Statistics. 

Australia’s aquaculture sector has been steadily increasing in both value and share of gross value of fisheries production (GVP), ABARES executive director Dr Jared Greenville said. 

“The GVP of the Australian aquaculture sector grew 10 per cent in 2019−20,” Greenville said. 

“While total Australian fishery and aquaculture GVP in 2019–20 decreased slightly by 2 per cent to $3.15 billion, higher aquaculture GVP offset lower GVP in the wild-catch sector.” 

Last year, aquaculture made up over half of the total GVP share of the Australian fisheries and aquaculture industry, up from 43 per cent in 2015–16 and 34 per cent in 2005–06. 

“Much of this has been reflected in Tasmania’s growing salmon aquaculture industry, which is now worth 35 per cent of national fisheries and aquaculture GVP,” Greenville said. 

“That said, market disruption during COVID-19 has impacted the decrease in wild-catch production, mostly due to decreased exports of rock lobster and abalone, with fishery product exports down 8 per cent to $1.41 billion in 2019–20.” 

This created a 12 per cent contraction in the GVP of the wild-catch sector. 

“This trend isn’t limited to exports. Domestically, buyer behaviour has also changed,” Greenville said. 

“Australians consumed around 335,000 tonnes of seafood in 2019−20, a decrease from around 341,000 tonnes in 2017–18, including imported seafood products.” 

The total value of fishery and aquaculture product imports decreased by 4 per cent to $2.2 billion last year, driven mostly by decreased imports of prawns, squids and octopus. 

You can read the latest edition of ABARES’ Australian Fisheries and Aquaculture Statistics here: www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/fisheries/fisheries-and-aquaculture-statistics. 

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