Aquaculture Growth in Australia

fennel3By John Fennell
Chief Executive Officer
International Copper Association Australia

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Farmed fish production will provide almost two thirds of global fish consumption by 2030 according to a report by the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). By 2021, more than half the fish consumed globally will be produced by aquaculture, according to the FAO.

Seafood Demands in Australia

Aquaculture has the potential to make a significant contribution to the increasing demand for aquatic food in most regions of the world. In Australia, seafood demand has increased considerably. According to a government report, Australia’s current consumer demand for seafood exceeds supplies from domestic production and continues to grow.

The aquaculture industry exists throughout Australia, from the tropical north to the more temperate south. The industry makes a significant and positive contribution to the country’s regional development efforts.

Australia’s Fish Species

There are more than forty species commercially produced in Australia. The top species groups – in order of production value are: salmonids, tuna, edible oysters, pearl oysters and prawns. Other species grown in Australia include abalone, freshwater finfish (such as barramundi, Murray cod, and silver perch), brackish water or marine finfish (barramundi, snapper, yellowtail kingfish, mulloway, and groupers), mussels, ornamental fish, marine sponges, mud crab and sea cucumber.

New Developments for Australian Aquaculture

Trials are under way near Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia to assess the potential of native seaweeds to be farmed and sold – perhaps leading the way for a new Australian aquaculture industry.

Seaweed aquaculture is well established in Asia and is expanding in western countries. Kathryn Wiltshire, Aquatic Sciences Research Officer at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) says Australia “imports around $20 million annually in seaweed products. We can fill that local market. There’s also the potential for us to export our unique species that don’t occur anywhere else in the world,” says Wiltshire.

According to a report by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, “increasing demand for Australian native species and proximity to Asian markets combined with Australia’s reputation as a supplier of safe, high-quality seafood using environmentally sustainable practices, means Australian aquaculture is competitively positioned to take on high-value aquaculture products.”