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Australian aquaculture

posted on 2023-05-22, 17:23 authored by Marcus HawardMarcus Haward

Aquaculture landings are an increasingly significant element of Australia’s fisheries production. In ‘2012–13 the wild-catch sector was valued at [AUD]1.4 billion, representing 57 per cent of Australian total fisheries production, and the aquaculture sector contributed [AUD]1 billion (43 per cent) to total fisheries production’. Fisheries and aquaculture are ‘Australia’s fifth most valuable food industry after meat, grains and oilseeds, fruit and vegetables, and milk’.

While the value and production of this sector has grown markedly over the past two decades, the regulatory and policy framework governing this activity remains fragmented. At the same time this framework must address and assess a number of emerging issues including the impacts of climate variability and change, ocean acidification, siting and operations, and environmental impacts of activities, and provide a means to balance between aquaculture needs and other legitimate uses of coastal and marine areas. This latter issue centers on the concept of ‘social licence’, emphasizing that notwithstanding the importance of the legal framework, the policy settings and associated ‘politics’ within the broad framework are complex.

Australia is a net importer of fish and fish products. While Australia has the third largest maritime jurisdiction in the world, the surrounding waters are not highly productive with low nutrient levels such that the nation is ranked 46th in the world for seafood production. Aquaculture production has a positive influence on this ranking since the Australian commercial wild catch places it 60th in the world. To provide an illustrative example of the status of the Australian wild catch the Alaskan pollock catch in the United States is eight times the total Australian annual production.

This chapter provides a brief overview of the development of aquaculture operations in Australia. It then outlines and discusses the legal and policy framework governing Australian aquaculture, noting, with one exception, that the legal regime is situated within broader fisheries legislation. The development of Atlantic salmon aquaculture in Tasmania provides a short case study, and the final substantive section of this chapter addresses the issues likely to shape ongoing development of Australian aquaculture.


Publication title

Aquaculture Law and Policy: Global, Regional and National Perspectives


N Bankes, I Dahl, DL VanderZwaag




978178471810 7


Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Edward Elgar Publishing

Place of publication

Cheltenham, UK



Rights statement

Copyright 2016 The Editors and Contributors severally

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  • Restricted

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