Employment

Fast facts

  • In 2015–16 an estimated 10,985 people were employed in the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry, with 5,600 employed in fishing enterprises and 5,385 in aquaculture.
  • An estimated 8,552 people (78 per cent) worked full-time and 3,433 (22 per cent) worked part-time in the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry in 2015–16.
  • Of the people employed in the commercial fishing sector in 2015–16, 84 per cent were male and 16 per cent were female. Of the people employed in aquaculture enterprises, 84 per cent were male and 16 per cent were female. The commercial fishing sector experienced an increase in full-time female participation relative to 2014–15, whereas the aquaculture sector experienced an increase in part-time male participation.
  • Compared with 2014–15, estimated total employment in the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry fell by 23 per cent (down 3,228 people) in 2015–16. Full-time employment fell by 20 per cent (down 2,130 people); part-time employment fell by 31 per cent (1,097 people).

Table 48 is based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Labour Force Survey. The labour market survey data are averaged over four quarters and presented in financial years for the fishing and aquaculture sectors separately. The number of people employed in the sectors is presented by full-time and part-time status and by gender. The ABS Census data provide subsector, jurisdiction employment data for the 2016 calendar year.

In its Labour Force Survey summary (ABS 2016) the ABS estimates that in 2015–16 the fishing and aquaculture industry employed 10,985 people—a decrease of 23 per cent compared with 2014–15. Employment in the aquaculture sector fell by 23 per cent (down 1,603 people) to 5,385 people in 2015–16. Employment in the fishing sector fell by 22 per cent (down 1,625 people) to 5,600 people.

TABLE 48 Employment in the Australian commercial fishing and aquaculture industry, 2011–12 to 2015–16 a
Sector2011–122012–132013–142014–152015–16
FishingFull-timeMale4,7274,2372,1485,2384,033
Female3011177317313
Total full-time5,0284,3542,2215,2544,346
Part-timeMale1,6059971,0701,086679
Female414651293885575
Total part-time2,0191,6491,3631,9711,255
Total employed in fishing7,047 6,0023,5847,2255,600
AquacultureFull-timeMale3,1972,1603,4104,4893,556
Female98126479939651
Total full-time3,2952,28638895,4284,206
Part-timeMale280583786780951
Female159443424780227
Total part-time4391,0261,2101,5601,179
Total employed in aquaculture3,7343,3125,1006,9885,385
Grand total 10,782 9,314 8,684 14,213 10,985

a ANZIC 2006. Average employment is averages over four quarters. Australian Bureau of Statistics advises caution in using employment statistics  at the ANZSIC subdivision and group levels because some estimates may be subject to sampling variability and standard errors too high for most practical purposes. Refer to original data sources for specific qualifications. The Australian Bureau of Statistics five-yearly Census of Population and Housing covers the entire population and provides more accurate and comprehensive employment data than surveys and provides data at smaller geographic scales.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

FIGURE 56 Employment in the Australian commercial fishing and aquaculture sectors, 2005–06 to 2015–16
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Compared with 2014–15, the estimated total number of people employed in the sector in 2015–16 fell by 22 per cent (1,625 people). This fall was driven by a decrease of 25 per cent (1,611 people) in total male employment, despite an increase of 296 in the number of full-time female employees (the only increase in fishing sector employment between 2014–15 and 2015–16).

Employment in the fisheries and aquaculture sector in 2015–16 comprised 78 per cent full-time employees and 22 per cent part-time employees. Compared with 2014–15, the number of people estimated to be employed full-time in the aquaculture sector fell by 23 per cent (down 1,222 people) to 4,206 people. Part-time employment in the aquaculture sector decreased by 24 per cent (down 381 people) to 1,179 people.

Males continue to dominate employment in the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry. The number of males employed in the industry fell by 20 per cent (down 2,373 males) in 2015–16, and men accounted for 84 per cent (9,219 males) of total employment in the industry. Between 2014–15 and 2015–16, the number of females employed in the industry fell by 33 per cent (down 855 females), comprising 16 per cent of total employment in the industry.

The 2016 ABS Census survey is the most recent survey detailing employment in the fishing industry by sector and by state. Commercial fishing, hunting and trapping and aquaculture activities employed 9,745 people, with 59 per cent (5,777 people) engaged in commercial fishing and hunting and trapping activities and 41 per cent (3,968 people) engaged in aquaculture activities. Fish wholesaling and seafood  processing employed 4,013 people, with 62 per cent (2,477 people) employed in fish wholesaling and 38 per cent (1,536 people) employed in seafood processing.

The offshore longline and rack aquaculture sector employed the largest number of people (1,406), followed by rock lobster and crab potting (1,106). By state, excluding fishing, hunting and trapping, Queensland employed the largest number of people in the wild-catch sector (998), followed by Western Australia (992) and South Australia (879). Tasmania employed the largest number of people in the aquaculture sector (1,585 people), followed by New South Wales (675) and South Australia (568 people).

TABLE 49 Estimated employment in the Australian commercial fishing and aquaculture industry, 2016 a
Category NSW
no.
Vic.
no.
Qld
no.
SA
no.
WA
no.
Tas.no.NT
no.
ACT
no.
Australia
no.
Aquaculture841421181569213980737
Onshore aquaculture10610433415274120170913
Offshore longline and rack aquaculture4531910322077532301,406
Offshore caged aquaculture322911401179400912
Rock lobster and crab potting4266811895441641201,106
Prawn fishing64016776610140392
Line fishing671218430058
Fish trawling, seining and netting11112822300080
Fishing, hunting and trapping260196276899945187997
Other fishing67329971057438031617303,144
Fishing and aquaculture total1,7318731,8401,5361,3452,11324579,745
Seafood processing202173221321266349501,536
Fish and seafood wholesaling6686256041912581091672,477
Processing and wholesaling total8707988255125244582174,013
Grand total 2,606 1,667 2,668 2047 1,875 2,586 282 18 13,755

a Based on the 2016 ABS Census data. Categories are consistent with ANZIC 2006. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics​

Last reviewed:
24 Apr 2018