The importance of trade

Keeping up with demand.

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How much seafood is consumed each year?

Australians undoubtedly love seafood, with the latest statistics showing that 341,000 tonnes of seafood is being consumed nationally each year. In recent years, domestic Australian suppliers have been satisfying approximately 110,000 tonnes of this demand, with the remaining 230,000 tonnes coming from imported sources.

How big is Australia's fishing industry?

At 8,500,000 km2, Australia has the world’s third largest maritime Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ), though due to the low productivity of these waters, Australia’s fishing industry is considered a minor player in global terms.  Typically, Australian fisheries focus on both high value species and products for export – this includes southern blue-fin tuna to Japan as well as live rock lobster and abalone to China.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact the seafood industry. The follow-on effects from the pandemic led to a disruption in Australian rock lobster supply, resulting in a $293 million decrease in species export – falling from $762 million to $469 million. Though where the export of some species suffered, others found opportunity. This was the case with Australian-farmed Atlantic Salmon, where exports rose from 12,000 tonnes to 23,000 tonnes in 2020. Usually a product destined for foodservice markets, the demand for this species grew as suppliers sought out new retail opportunities both domestically and overseas.

Due to natural sustainability limits, wild catch production has peaked globally, providing around 80 million tonnes per annum, which accounts for 50% of the world’s total seafood production. Any growth in seafood demand is now supplied by increases in aquaculture production. Over the last 50 years, global per-person seafood consumption has doubled from 10kg per year to 20kg. 

In 1980, aquaculture only accounted for 7% of global seafood production, whereas now it sits around 50% to meet the increase in consumption.

What importance does the foodservice industry have in the seafood industry?

The foodservice sector serves as a major contributor to the Australian economy, generating $25 billion in industry value-add. There are over 77,000 foodservice businesses employing nearly 700,000 people across Australia. At least $1 billion of the $25 billion generated by the foodservice sector is derived from seafood imports which support over 28,000 Australian foodservice jobs.

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