How big is Australia’s seafood industry?
The Australian seafood industry, also commonly known as the fisheries and aquaculture industries, is an industry that has steadily grown over the years.
While not as major as other meat industries such as beef, pork and poultry, seafood still plays an important domestic and international role.
Australian fisheries do export a large amount of their high value seafood products. In 2012-2013, export earnings accounted for 49% of total fishery production values.
Even though Australia does export a large portion of its seafood products, we still make up a minor percentage of overall global seafood supplies. The most current statistics have us sitting at 0.2%.
For the countries we export to, Japan was originally our predominant export destination. However, by 2005 this saw a change in behaviour as the amount of exported seafood product to Japan declined. As Japan has declined, a steady increase in exports to China, Hong Kong and Vietnam have occurred. This makes particular sense with China, whom Australia has signed a Free Trade Agreement with.
Domestic & import
While we rely on exporting seafood to attribute to Australia’s economy, the truth is that domestic demands for seafood are increasing. Even though local seafood is relatively plentiful in Australia, it’s still not enough in regards to annual demands. To cope with this demand, Australia does import seafood.
In 2012-2013, seafood imports from other countries accounted for approximately 66% of Australia’s total seafood consumption for that period.
Since 2000, Australia’s average consumption of seafood has increased by 3% every year. Between 2000 and 2001, consumption sat at 248,515 tonnes. By 2012-2013, this consumption sat at 345,326 tonnes. Despite our increased appetite for seafood, local supplies simply can’t keep up.
While our average consumption has been increasing by an average of 3% per year, domestic supply has only been able to increase by an average of 1% per year. This increasing gap between demand and supply is what’s led to an increased reliance on imported seafood.
In terms of how much money is generated from Australian fisheries per year, the most recent available stats (from 2012 to 2013) showed a gross value $2.4 billion. This was a 3% increase on the year before. As noted, the split of domestic and export sits around the 50/50 mark.
If you’d like to take a more comprehensive look at the state of the seafood/aquaculture industry, be sure to check out the Department of Agriculture’s 2014 report here.