seafood for australia




Some facts about Australia’s seafood market


  • The Australian fishing zone is the third largest in the world;
  • The entire Australian wild-catch production represents just 0.002% of the world’s seafood production;
  • Australia’s fisheries are the sixth largest food producing primary industry;
  • Seafood is the fifth most valuable protein source for Australians;
  • Australia exports $1.5b of edible seafood and imports $2.1b of edible seafood;
  • Australia is a net importer, both in value and volume terms, to meet Australia’s growing demand for seafood; and
  • Australia’s commercial seafood production only provides 30% of domestic demand.


If Australians want to continue enjoying local seafood, that’s good for their health, now and in the future, they need a commercially viable fishing industry to supply it.

Interestingly the Commonwealth Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council has recently published the proposed new Australian Dietary Guidelines which recommends that the average Australian should increase their intake of fish and seafood by 40%.

As a nation with the world’s third largest fishing zone we already import 70% of our seafood to meet current domestic demand.

Of the 70% of seafood we import to eat, 52% of it, in terms of both value and weight, comes from three countries:

  • Thailand 26%;
  • China 14%; and
  • Vietnam 12%i

A 2009 estimation of adherence to the United Nations Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries Australia ranked 4th out of the 53 countries surveyed. Thailand was ranked 42nd, China 22nd, and Vietnam 45thii.

So it is important that Australians, in a quest for a healthier life style, should also consider not only how we are going to supply our increasing demand for seafood, but also:

  • The growing concern about how the world is going to feed people in the future; and
  • The important role Australia, as an internationally recognised world leader in sustainable fisheries management, can play in demonstrating how we fish our marine area (which is greater than Australia’s land area) and assist the developing world to sustainably fish their marine areas.

To this end it is important that

  1.  The Australian commercial fishing industry remains viable. A fishing business is no different to any other business, it needs certainty and confidence that it will have long-term access to its primary resource to attract investment, a skilled workforce, remain profitable and support on-shore businesses. 
  2. Existing fisheries are maintained and the development of new sustainable fisheries is encouraged. The Fishing Industry’s refined reserves proposal minimises the impact on prospectivity for existing fisheries, but does not address the matter for future fishing operations and the development of new or under utilised fisheries. MRAG, an independent fisheries consulting company, has prepared a report “Fisheries ‘prospectivity’ and implications for MPA planning” which has been included in the Fishing Industry’s proposal.


Proposal submission Attachment D MRAG Fisheries ‘prospectivity’ and implications for marine planning (961 k)


Other resources:

 **New** Fisheries Research and Development Corporation's Response to the National Food Plan Issues Paper (1.04 Mb)

To gain an insight into the issues surrounding Food Security and feeding the world’s population visit the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization

Centre of Excellence for Science, Seafood and Health

The Age: Stop being Mr Potatoheads, say new guidelines. 13/13/2011

Australian Dietary Guidelines

Dr Robert Kearney, Emeritus Professor of Fisheries, University of Canberra talking to Radio 6PR’s Paul Murray on the sustainability of Australian seafood



[i]  ABARE (2011). Fishery Status Reports 2010: Available at

[ii] Pitcher, T., Kalikoski, D., Pramod, G. & Short, K. 2009. Not honouring the code. Nature, 457, 658 - 9.