The seafood industry includes those concerned with the commercial take, culturing, processing, preserving, storing, transporting, marketing and selling fish and fish products (including pearling).
Seafood Industry Sector profiles
There is considerable diversity among fishing and aquaculture stakeholders. While four broad groups can be identified, there is wide variation within each group. For example, the aquaculture sector has large companies that employ hundreds of people supported by expensive equipment, and harvest thousands of tonnes of product. It also has small businesses who farm in land-based dams with very little capital and who harvest small volumes.
The aquaculture sector can generally be described as having business ‘smart’, value-adding ventures, with larger enterprises processing, packaging and branding their own produce. The sector is currently dominated by Atlantic Salmon with significant contributions from pearl, oyster and prawn producers and by the ranching of Southern Bluefin Tuna.
The commercial fishing industry is made up of about 15,000 licence holders. A small number of operators take a large portion of the harvest (by value and volume). These are diverse enterprises that may hold multiple licences. They may work in a range of fisheries and, in some instances, are integrated along the supply chain. The remainder of the commercial fishing sector is made up of a large number of small owner-operator businesses. They are vital to sustaining small coastal communities and are passionate about what they do — supplying Australia with seafood.
Indigenous Australians are a distinct group by virtue of their ancient ties to the land and sea, carried on through traditional practices that include fishing. Indigenous fishing occurs in coastal, estuarine and inland waters, taking a mix of species, some of which are also important to other fishing sectors. Marine and freshwater species are an important food source and a component of many ceremonial and social events. A culture of ‘no waste’ ensures fish are shared within communities and families. Indigenous Australians also take part in the aquaculture, commercial fishing and recreational sectors across Australia.
Aquatic resources present recreational fishers with opportunities for hobby, sport or vacation-related activities. These include exercising and relaxing, socialising with friends and family, meeting new people, seeing new places, engaging with nature, and providing a source of food. The main economic value of the recreational sector comes through the business activities that support it. This includes the bait industry, tackle manufacturers and retailers, fishing tourism, charter and guide operators, as well as the money spent in communities by anglers during fishing trips.
The post-harvest sector includes some businesses that are vertically integrated (i.e. they control a product from harvest to consumer delivery). However, many businesses only operate in one area of the supply chain. Elements of the post-harvest sector have previously been considered part of the aquaculture or commercial fishing sectors but, more recently, they have become a sector in their own right.