Aquaculture in Australia

Aquaculture in Australia is the country’s fastest growing primary industry, accounting for 34% of the total gross value of seafood production. [1] 10 species of fish are farmed in Australia, and production is dominated by southern bluefin tuna , Atlantic salmon and barramundi . [2] Mud crabs have also been cultivated in Australia for many years, sometimes leading to over-exploitation . [3] Traditionally, this aquaculture was limited to pearls, but since the early 1970s, including finfish , crustaceans , and molluscs . [4]

Australia produces 240,000 tons of fish a year Over the decade to 2006-07 aquaculture production has almost doubled from 29,300 tonnes to 57,800 tonnes. The value of aquaculture production in Australia continued to rise in 2007-08 by $ 62.7 million to $ 868 million. [5] In 2008 the Aquaculture industry directly employed more than 7,000 people and contributed 20,000 and was the fastest growing industry in Australia. [6]

The National Aquaculture Council

The National Aquaculture Council (NAC) is the largest aquaculture industry in Australia. NAC provides the industry with a credible voice to the political level, and strives for greater influence of issues of national significance for Australia’s aquaculture industry. Since its establishment in 2001, NAC has developed a reputation among key Australian Government Ministers and Agencies with an interest in aquaculture, primarily the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. The NAC is governed by a Board of Directors, which is responsible for determining the strategic direction of the NAC’s work program. In addition to these industry members, they are other NAC members including a variety of aquaculture organizations and groups.

Code of Conduct

The National Aquaculture Council maintains a voluntary Australian Aquaculture Industry Code of Conduct, which was first published in 1998. [7]

  1. Comply with regulations
  2. Respect the rights and safety of others
  3. Protect the environment
  4. Treat aquatic animals humanely
  5. Promote the safety of seafood and other aquatic foods for human consumption

Australian aquaculture sectors

Marine finfish

The marine finfish industry is an inshore and offshore sea cage-farming sector, which primarily operates in South Australia and Tasmania with some other farms in other states. The main species are southern bluefin tuna, salmon, kingfish, mulloway and barramundi. Operations typically involve pre-dawn loading of vessels and delivering feed to the sea cages. Cleaning and maintenance duties are performed, with various undertaking net repairs and cleaning in most farms. A second run is undertaken in the afternoon and early evening.

Southern bluefin tuna

The aquaculture component of the Australian tuna sector involves the culturing of tuna in offshore sea pontoons. Before dawn, which can be up to 25 km out at sea. Feeding, maintenance and harvesting operations are performed, and the environmental monitoring of the environment is subject to compliance with the license conditions. Weather conditions determines when fish can be fed and maintained. Generally is a six-to-seven-month season.

Southern bluefin tuna aquaculture was first initiated in Australia in 1990 through a collaborative research and development program involving the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association (ASBTIA), previously the Tuna Boat Owners Association of Australia (TBOASA), the Japanese Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation and the South Australian Government. [8] Southern bluefin tuna is the most valuable sector of South Australia’s aquaculture industry and is represented by the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association (ASBTIA).


The Australian salmon industry is based in Tasmania , Victoria and South Australia . The aquaculture sector involves the collection of broodstock and production of fingerlings for growing in sea cages, which are located in offshore and inshore waters. A specialist fleet of vessels performs fishing and harvesting operations at sea, with the most common working hours between 4:00 am and 7:59 – 8:00 pm. The Tasmanian Salmonid Growers’ Association Ltd. is the largest salmon growers in Tasmania. [9]

Freshwater fish

There are many small to medium freshwater fish farms throughout Australia, growing a wide range of species including Murray cod , silver perch , jade perch and eels. Systems vary from intensive tank rearing systems to automatic systems to pond and dam systems.



The Australian prawn farming industry is largely based in the tropical zones of Queensland. Prawns are farmed in large-scale operations, which operate round the clock and every day of the year. Farms are located in four Australian states-New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

The farms have their own hatchery and the whole operation involves hatching, growing, harvesting and processing in an integrated continual process operation. Some of the most important species in the world, prawns feed at night. Hours from 2:30 am to 11 pm

The Australian Farming Prawn Association (APFA) was formed in 1993 to represent the interests of the Australian prawn farming industry. [10] The Australian prawn farming industry now produces over 4,000 tons of over $ 70 million, providing more than 1,000 direct jobs and 1,800 indirect jobs. [10] While the Australian industry is one of the smaller volume producers in the world, it leads the world in an average yield of more than 4,500 kilograms (9,900 lb) per hectare.

Yabbies, red claw and brown

There are many small land-based crustacean farms in Australia. Yabbies are most common and are typically an incidental aquaculture operation to general land-based farming. Red claw farms are scattered throughout Australia but mostly in Queensland and New South Wales. Brown farms operate mainly in Western Australia and South Australia and tend to be larger scale operations.


Abalone (land based)

Land-based abalone farms operate extensively on growing out systems, which are most often based around raceway technologies. While a majority of farms have integrated hatchery and grow-out operations, some rely on purchasing spat from dedicated hatcheries. Broodstock is a well-established international provider of diving and operations. Most land based abalone farms are 24-hour operations involving continuous monitoring of water systems and the stock. Any interruption to the water supply and water temperature can be catastrophic with large-scale losses.

Abalone (sea based)

Two types of marine abalone systems include sea cage technology. Broodstock is born of the wild and juvenile abalone grown in hatchery complexes. The stock is then brought to life by the sea and is managed by the group of commercial divers. Operations are performed round the clock, seven days a week.

After trials in 2012, [11] a commercial “sea ranch” was set up in Flinders Bay , Western Australia to raise abalone. The ranch is based on an artificial reef made up of 5000 (As of April 2016 ) separate concrete units called abitats(abalone habitats). The 900 kilograms (2,000 lbs) abitats can host 400 abalone each. The reef is seeded with young abalone from an onshore hatchery.

The abalone feed on seaweed that has grown naturally on the abitats; with the ecosystem enriching of the bay resulting from dhufish, pink snapper, wrasse, Samson fish among other species.

Brad Adams, from the company, has emphasized the similarity to wild abalone and the difference from shore based aquaculture. “We’re not aquaculture, we’re ranching, because they’re in the water they look after themselves.” [12] [13]


The mussel industry is widespread throughout Australia with large-scale operations in Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria. Marine Europe systems are used to grow the mussels. As mussels are filter feeders, farms rely on natural feed including algae, detritus and bacteria, rather than artificial diets or pellets. [14] Harvesting involves the operation of specialized mussel -stripping machinery on purpose-built vessels. Operational rates range between 2am and 11pm and are dependent on weather conditions. While farms operate throughout the year, there is a busy season of mussel production from January to May.

Pacific oysters

The Pacific oyster industry operates mostly in Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. The industry is a marine based industry (apart from the hatchery complexes) with most farms accessed by commercial vessels which are used to maintain the growth sites and harvest the oysters. The industry operates seven days a week every week of the year. Operations are performed before dawn, with some unloading, bagging operations extending the work into the evening.


The Australian pearling industry is based on the Pinctada maxima pearl oyster species. Since the mid-1950s the industry has focused on the production of cultured pearls. The first stage of culturing pearls requires fishing for wildstock pearl oysters, which are then used to manufacture cultured pearls through an aquaculture process. Western Australia is the main pearl-producing state, with The Pearl Producers Association (PPA) acting as the peak representative body for the Pinctada maxima pearl oyster culture industry. [15] The Northern Territory is the second-largest pearl-producing state.

Sydney rock oysters

This industry operates in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia and has a single species ( Saccostrea Glomerata ) in a number of estuarine and ocean settings. Operations involving small vessels in the United States and the United States for checking, sorting, grading and harvesting the oysters. The farms operate in daylight hours with each other. Once a day, the operations rank and clean the market and prepare them for dispatch to markets on the East Coast.

See also

  • Naeraberg
  • Seafood in Australia


  1. Jump up^ “National Aquaculture Sector Overview: Australia” . Food and Agriculture Organization . Archived from the original on 13 April 2009 . Retrieved 2009-04-25 .
  2. Jump up^ Bray, Dianne. “Aquaculture” . Fishes of Australia . Retrieved 30 September 2014 .
  3. Jump up^ Don Fielder, Geoff Allan, ed. (April 2003). Mud crab aquaculture in Australia and Southeast Asia . Australian Center for International Agricultural Research . p. 70.
  4. Jump up^ Jay V. Huner (1994). Freshwater crayfish aquaculture in North America, Europe, and Australia . Haworth Press . p. 218. ISBN 1-56022-039-2 .
  5. Jump up^ Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) & Fisheries Research & Development Corporation (FRDC), “Australian Fisheries Statistics 2008,” 2009, pg 17, retrieved August 25, 2009.
  6. Jump up^ Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, “Aquaculture Industry-Overview,”[1]October 2008, retrieved August 25, 2009ArchivedSeptember 29, 2009 at theWayback Machine.
  7. Jump up^ “Australian Aquaculture Code of Conduct” (PDF) . Archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-07-18.
  8. Jump up^ The Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association, “Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry- Past and Future,”[2]retrieved August 25, 2009ArchivedJuly 11, 2009 at theWayback Machine.
  9. Jump up^ Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association (TSGA), “Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association (TSGA),”[3]retrieved August 25, 2009.Archived16 January 2009 at theWayback Machine.
  10. ^ Jump up to:b The Australian Prawn Farmers Association, “About APFA,” 2001, retrieved 25 August 2009
  11. Jump up^ “Information Memorandum, 2013 Ranching of Abalone Greenlip, Flinders Bay – Western Australia” (PDF) . Ocean Grown Abalone . Ocean Grown Abalone . Retrieved 23 April 2016 .
  12. Jump up^ Fitzgerald, Bridget (28 August 2014). “First wild abalone farm in Australia built on artificial reef” . Australian Broadcasting Corporation Rural . Australian Broadcasting Corporation . Retrieved 23 April 2016 . It’s the same as the wild core product.
  13. Jump up^ Murphy, Sean (23 April 2016). “Abalone grown in world-first sea ranch in WA ‘as good as wild catch ‘ ” . Australian Broadcasting Corporation News . Australian Broadcasting Corporation . Retrieved 23 April 2016 . So to drive future growth I really believe this is a great opportunity going forward for some of these coastal communities.
  14. Jump up^ Nobes, K., Lawrence, C., How, S., (2008). Aqua Info: Estimated Western Australian Aquaculture Production for 2006/07. Edition 28. Western Australia: Department of Fisheries, Western Australia
  15. Jump up^ McCallum, B., “Pearl Producers Association,” “Archived copy” (PDF) . Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 October 2009 . Retrieved 2009-08-25 . March 2007, pg 1, retrieved 25 August 2009

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