Trade

​​Fast facts

Exports

  • Total value of fishery and aquaculture product exports increased by 7 per cent in 2015–16 to $1.54 billion. This builds on the increases in export value over 2013–14 and 2014–15.
  • Export value derived from edible fishery and aquaculture products increased by 10 per cent in 2015–16 to $1.42 billion. Non-edible fishery and aquaculture product exports declined by 16 per cent to $123 million in 2015–16, with pearls as the highest contributor to total non-edible export value.
  • Total value of fishery and aquaculture product exports was 22 per cent lower in real terms in 2015–16 compared with 2005–06. However, a downward trend in export value from 2005–06 to 2012–13 has been followed by year-on-year increases in earnings from 2013–14 to 2015–16. Increases in total export earnings since 2012–13 can be largely attributed to a significant rise in value of rock lobster exports in 2013–14 and 2014–15 and salmonid exports in 2015–16.
Table 31 Top five edible and non-edible exports by value, 2015–16
SpeciesValue ($ million)Volume (tonnes)
Rock lobster693.27,987
Abalone182.02,615
Tuna163.313,752
Prawns114.46,689
Pearls a96.0na

a Includes items temporarily exported and reimported. na Not available.

Table 32 Top five edible and non-edible exports by destination, 2015–16
SpeciesValue ($ million)Value change (%)
Vietnam682–5
Hong Kong27711
Japan2296
China108111
United States6649

Imports

  • The total value of fishery and aquaculture product imports increased by 4 per cent in 2015–16 to $2.09 billion.
  • Edible fishery and aquaculture products contributed $1.79 billion (86 per cent) to the total import value of all fishery and aquaculture products in 2015–16.
  • The import value of non-edible fishery and aquaculture products made up the remaining 14 per cent, dominated by pearls that were temporarily exported and reimported.
  • The value of Australian fishery product imports was 29 per cent higher
  • ($465 million in 2015–16 dollars) in 2015–16 compared with 2005–06. Most of this increase is attributed to higher imports of edible fishery and aquaculture products, which increased by 36 per cent from 2005–06 to 2015–16.
Table 33 Top five edible and non-edible imports by species, 2015–16
SpeciesValue ($ million)Volume (tonnes)Value change
(%)
Volume change
(%)
Prawns400.931,919–7–1
Tuna274.844,859–3–9
Salmonids184.715,059–3–7
Pearls a144.4na49na
Squid and octopus134.823,380215

a Includes items temporarily exported and reimported. na Not available.

Table 34 Top five edible and non-edible imports by origin, 2015–16
CountryValue ($ million)Value change (%)
Thailand423–1
China3176
Vietnam2464
New Zealand2095
Indonesia1075

Exports and imports

Australian fishery and aquaculture exports are dominated by high unit value products such as rock lobster, tuna and abalone. Imports of fishery and aquaculture products largely consist of lower unit value products such as frozen and canned fish and frozen prawns. Australia is a net importer of fishery and aquaculture products with respect to volume. With respect to value, Australia became a net importer of fishery and aquaculture products in 2007–08 (Figure 41). The real value (in 2015–16 dollars) of net imports increased from $65 million in 2007–08 to $719 million in 2013–14 before reducing to $544 million in 2015–16 (Figure 41).

FIGURE 41 Australian fishery export and import value, 2005–06 to 2015–16

The value of Australian fishery and aquaculture product exports increased by 7 per cent in 2015–16 to $1.54 billion. This rise builds on rising total export value since 2013–14 and is largely attributable to the export of rock lobster.

A $739 million (in 2015–16 dollars) fall in export earnings from 2005–06 to 2012–13 was the result of lower export value across several major exported aquaculture and fisheries products. The total value of edible exports fell by 33 per cent, largely reflecting lower export value of rock lobster, abalone, prawns and tuna. The real value of non-edible exports fell by 54 per cent between 2005–06 and 2012–13. The leading cause of this fall was the decline in the export earnings from pearls, which fell by $211 million (in 2015–16 dollars) during that period.

Exports by commodity

Crustacean and mollusc product exports (predominantly rock lobster) are the largest contributor to Australia’s total fishery and aquaculture product export earnings (Figure 42). This group accounted for 69 per cent of the total fishery and aquaculture product export earnings in 2015–16, followed by edible finfish and non-edible product exports at 23 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively. The share of crustacean and mollusc product exports in the export mix increased from 61 per cent of total export earnings in 2005–06. Most of the rise in export share for the crustacean and mollusc group has occurred from 2012–13, reflecting the increase in rock lobster export value.

FIGURE 42 Value of Australian fishery exports, 2005–06 to 2015–16
TABLE 35 Fishery and aquaculture product exports, 2015–16
Product groupValue ($ million)Volume (tonnes)Value change (%)Volume change (%)
Crustaceans and molluscs1,063.719,6704–0
Edible finfish354.642,3853180
Non-edible123.5na–16na
Total 1,541.8 na 7 na

See table S18 for detailed statistics. na Not available.

Finfish products

The value of edible finfish exports increased by 31 per cent in 2015–16 to $355 million. This increase was largely driven by increased salmonid product export value (Figure 43). Salmonid production in Australia increased by 35,344 tonnes to 56,319 tonnes between 2005–06 and 2015–16, with most of this increase consumed in Australia. In 2015–16 the volume of salmonid exports increased by 62 per cent to   a record 8,038 tonnes. Over half of all salmonid exports in 2015–16 were destined for the Chinese market, which became the largest market for salmonid exports in that year, taking 4,370 tonnes. Tuna product exports also contributed to growth in finfish export earnings, as a result of higher volumes exported, but to a lesser extent than salmonids.

Mackerel exports (defined as exports from HS codes 03024400, 03035400, 03035500 and 16041500) increased from 249 tonnes in 2014–15 to 11,131 tonnes in 2015–16. African countries were the destination for 89 per cent of mackerel exports in 2015–16 by volume. Mackerel is a relative low unit value fish export, so, despite total mackerel exports accounting for 27 per cent of the total finfish export volume, mackerel exports accounted for only 4 per cent of total finfish export value.

Between 2005–06 and 2013–14, the value of finfish exports decreased by 38 per cent in real terms. This was primarily because of a 39 per cent decline in the value of tuna exports over the period. During this period, the average unit value for tuna exports declined by 18 per cent and export volume dropped by 24 per cent. The increase in export value since 2013–14 has been driven by increased volume of salmonid and tuna.

FIGURE 43 Value of finfish exports by species group, 2005–06 to 2015–16
TABLE 36 Finfish exports by species, 2015–16
SpeciesValue ($ million)Volume (tonnes)Value change (%)Volume change (%)
Tuna163.313,752814
Salmonids79.98,0386662
Other finfish111.420,59555216
Total 354.6 42,385 31 80

See table S19 for detailed statistics.

Crustacean and mollusc products

The value of Australian crustacean and mollusc exports increased by 4 per cent in 2015–16 to $1.06 billion (Figure 44). Rock lobster, prawns, and abalone account for 93 per cent of Australian crustacean and mollusc export value.

Rock lobster was Australia’s most valuable fishery commodity export. Export value of rock lobster increased marginally in 2015–16 to $693 million, with a decline in export volume being more than offset by an increase in average export unit values. The China, Vietnam and Hong Kong region is Australia’s key export destination for rock lobster, accounting for over 90 per cent of export value. During recent years this market has been subject to rising competition from the United States, Canada and New Zealand.

The value of prawn exports increased by 21 per cent to $114 million, largely reflecting an increase in average export unit value. The Australian prawn industry is highly trade exposed, and movements in global shrimp prices and the Australian exchange are expected to be reflected in domestic prices. However, Australia produces a wide variety of prawn species, and the significant increase in average unit export value in 2015–16 could also reflect a change in the composition of prawn exports toward relatively higher unit value species such as tiger prawns.

The total value of crustacean and mollusc product exports fell by $439 million in real terms (2015–16 dollars) between 2005–06 and 2011–12. Export value declined for all major exported crustacean and mollusc species during that period. A significant increase in the value of rock lobster exports from 2011–12 to 2015–16 was the key driver of the partial recovery in the total value of crustacean and mollusc product exports during that period.

FIGURE 44 Value of crustacean and mollusc exports by species, 2005–06 to 2015–16
TABLE 37 Crustacean and mollusc exports by species, 2015–16
SpeciesValue ($ million)Volume (tonnes)Value change (%)Volume change (%)
Rock lobster693.27,9870–3
Abalone182.02,61551
Prawns114.46,689213
Other crustacean and molluscs74.12,37919–2
Total 1,063.7 19,670 4 –0

See table S20 for detailed statistics.

Non-edible fishery and aquaculture products

The total value of non-edible fishery exports fell by 16 per cent in 2015–16 to $123 million (Figure 45). Pearl exports (including products temporarily exported and then reimported) account for the majority of non-edible fishery and aquaculture export value. Exports of that product declined by 13 per cent in 2015–16 to $96 million. Marine fats and oils, despite being the second-largest contributor, is a minor component of export earnings from non-edible products. The export value of marine fats and oils fell by 47 per cent in 2015–16 from the above-average value of 2014–15.

Between 2005–06 and 2015–16, the fall in pearl export value (down $276 million in 2015–16 dollars) was the main contributor to the fall in total export earnings from non-edible products (down $274 million in 2015–16 dollars).

FIGURE 45 Value of non-edible exports by product, 2005–06 to 2015–16
a Includes items temporarily exported and re-imported.
TABLE 38 Non-edible exports by product, 2015–16
ProductValue ($ million)Value change (%)
Pearlsa95.9–13
Marine fats and oils11.2–47
Other non-edible products16.47
Total 123.5 –16

See table S18 for detailed statistics. a Includes items temporarily exported and reimported.

Exports by destination

Edible fishery and aquaculture products

Main destinations: Vietnam, Hong Kong and Japan

The major seafood export destinations for Australia in 2015–16 were Vietnam ($682 million), Hong Kong ($224 million), Japan ($205 million), China ($105 million) and the United States ($45 million) (Figure 46). Together these countries accounted for 89 per cent of edible fishery products (including live fish) exported from Australia in 2015–16. Between 2005–06 and 2015–16 the majority of seafood products were exported to Hong Kong; however, Vietnam has been the primary export destination since 2013–14. The increasing share of edible fishery and aquaculture product exports to Vietnam after 2012–13 reflects the redirection of rock lobster exports from Hong Kong. The fall in export earnings from Hong Kong—over the period— was slightly offset by an increase in frozen prawn export earnings (up $18 million in 2015–16 dollars).

The value of seafood exports to China more than doubled in 2015–16 to $105 million. A large increase in salmonid exports to China boosted earnings from this market. Tuna and swordfish were the dominant categories responsible for export earnings from the United States.

FIGURE 46 Value of edible exports by destination, 2005–06 to 2015–16
TABLE 39 Edible exports by destination, 2015–16
DestinationValue ($ million)Volume (tonnes)Value change (%)Volume change (%)
Vietnam681.79,895–5–12
Hong Kong223.75,0291611
Japan205.313,395712
China104.66,60911590
United States44.82,1506075
Other countries158.124,97636130
Total 1,418.3 62,055 10 43

See table S24 for detailed statistics.

Non-edible fishery and aquaculture products

Main destinations: Hong Kong, Japan and the United States

Non-edible fishery and aquaculture product export earnings (predominantly from pearl exports) fell across all major export destinations between 2005–06 and 2015–16 (Figure 47).

FIGURE 47 Value of non-edible exports by destination, 2005–06 to 2015–16
TABLE 40 Non-edible exports by destination, 2015–16
Product groupValue ($ million)Value change (%)
Hong Kong53.2–5
Japan24.03
United States21.630
Other countries46.3–32
Total 123.5 –16

See table S24 for detailed statistics.

Seafood exports by state

Edible fishery and aquaculture export earnings from Western Australia increased by 4 per cent in 2015–16 to $505 million, largely as a result of an increase in rock lobster and prawn export value. Tasmania and Queensland were the states that had the most significant growth in export earnings from edible fishery and aquaculture products in 2015–16. Export earnings from Tasmania rose primarily as a result of increased export value of salmonids, while growth in the value of fishery and aquaculture exports from Queensland was due to increased revenue from tuna and prawns.

Export earnings from South Australia rose by 3 per cent in 2015–16 to $250 million, with an increase in finfish export value more than offsetting significant decline in the value of rock lobster exports. Export earnings from New South Wales increased by around $5 million, primarily because of increases in the value of tuna and rock lobster exports. Export earnings from Northern Territory remained relatively stable.

TABLE 41 Edible exports by state, 2015–16
SpeciesValue ($ million)Volume (tonnes)Value change (%)Volume change (%)
New South Wales23.31,74325–18
Victoria192.516,4099369
Queensland199.610,8182518
South Australia250.511,727311
Western Australia504.97,85143
Tasmania186.99,2792754
Northern Territory0.23–37–63

See table S28 for detailed statistics.

Western Australia and South Australia were the largest exporting states by value between 2005–06 and 2015–16 (Figure 48). In Western Australia rock lobster dominates the export mix, with its contribution to total edible fishery and aquaculture product export earnings ranging between 83 per cent and 93 per cent. Other major products exported from Western Australia include prawns and abalone. Export earnings from South Australia fell considerably between 2005–06 and 2015–16 due to reduced revenue from all major export species (tuna, rock lobster, abalone and prawns). Tuna remained the major source of export earnings from South Australia over the period. Tuna exports from South Australia primarily consist of southern bluefin tuna exported to Japan. Export earnings have declined as a result of the appreciation of the Australian dollar against the yen and subdued economic conditions in Japan.

The real value of seafood exports from Queensland fell by $48 million (in 2015–16 dollars) between 2005–06 and 2015–16. Contributing to this decline has been lower export earnings from finfish, scallops and crab.

Salmonids, rock lobster and abalone are the major edible fishery and aquaculture products exported from Tasmania. Between 2005–06 and 2015–16 export earnings from both rock lobster and abalone have declined, with the fall in rock lobster being the most significant. In contrast, salmonid exports have grown significantly over the same period (up $67 million in 2015–16 dollars) owing to growth in the aquaculture salmonid industry in Tasmania.

The major source of export earnings from Victoria has been rock lobster and abalone (together accounting for 87 per cent of export value on average from 2005–06 to 2015–16). The real value of rock lobster exports tripled between 2005–06 and 2015–16 to account for 57 per cent of seafood export value in 2015–16.

New South Wales and Northern Territory exports are relatively small compared with those of the other states. The major sources of edible fishery and aquaculture export earnings for New South Wales are tuna and other (finfish) fish, while the Northern Territory primarily exports crab and other species (crustaceans and molluscs).

FIGURE 48 Value of edible exports by state, 2005–06 to 2015–16

Imports by commodity

The total value of fishery and aquaculture product imports increased by 4 per cent in 2015–16 to $2.09 billion (Figure 49). Edible finfish imports increased by 2 per cent to $1.07 billion to account for around half of total fishery and aquaculture product import value in 2015–16. The total value of crustacean and mollusc imports increased by 1 per cent in 2015–16 to $720 million. Imports of non-edible fishery and aquaculture products increased by 22 per cent in 2015–16 to $293 million, largely reflecting an increase in the value of reimported pearls.

TABLE 42 Fishery and aquaculture imports, 2015–16
Product groupValue ($ million)Volume (tonnes) Value change (%) Volume change (%)
Crustaceans and molluscs720.068,26711
Edible finfish1,072.7154,4822–3
Non-edible293.4na22na
Total2,086.4na4na

See table S29 for detailed statistics. na Not available.

FIGURE 49 Value of fishery and aquaculture product imports, 2005–06 to 2015–16

Edible fishery and aquaculture products

Key products: tuna, salmonids, hake

The value of edible finfish imports increased by 2 per cent in 2015–16 to $1.07 billion (Figure 50). The import value of tuna and salmonids—the two highest-value species imported into Australia—both declined by 3 per cent in 2015–16 to $275 million and $185 million, respectively. Lower import value for these species was the result of lower import volume.

More than offsetting the decline in the import value of tuna and salmonids was an increase in the value of imports across a range of species and product forms. The import value of toothfish (largely frozen) more than doubled to $8.2 million, the total value of prepared and preserved sardines, anchovies and mackerel increased by 26 per cent to $46 million and hake (largely frozen) increase by 8 per cent to $24 million.

Between 2005–06 and 2015–16 the real value of finfish imports increased by $303 million (in 2015–16 dollars). Around 60 per cent of this increase was driven by higher import value of tuna and salmonids, which increased in real terms (2015–16 dollars) by $93 million and $89 million, respectively. Significant rises in import value also occurred for a number of other fish species and product forms.

Finfish

FIGURE 50 Value of finfish imports by species, 2005–06 to 2015–16
TABLE 43 Finfish imports by species, 2015–16
Product groupValue ($ million)Volume (tonnes)Value change (%)Volume change (%)
Tuna274.844,859–3–9
Salmonids184.715,059–3–7
Hake23.65,12384
Other finfish589.689,4406–0
Total1,072.7154,4822–3

See table S30 for detailed statistics.

Tuna is Australia’s most valuable finfish export while also being Australia’s most valuable finfish import. However, the mix of product forms of tuna is different between exports and imports. While exports are largely in a frozen, fresh or chilled form, imports are virtually all in a prepared or preserved (canned) form (Figure 51).

Across all product forms the average unit value of Australian tuna exports is much greater than the average import unit value.

FIGURE 51 Australian tuna trade by product form, 2015–16

Crustaceans and molluscs

The import value of crustaceans and molluscs increased by 1 per cent in 2015–16 to $720 million (Figure 52). This increase occurred despite a 7 per cent decline in the value of prawn imports (the most valuable species in this group) to $401 million.

The decline in prawn import value was largely the result of lower average unit values, although imported quantity also declined. An increase in import value was recorded across a number of species, including squid and octopus, scallops and mussels.

Between 2005–06 and 2015–16 the real value of crustacean and mollusc imports increased by $173 million (in 2015–16 dollars). This increase was driven by higher import value of prawns, squid and octopus, which increased by $126 million.

Significant rises in import value also occurred for a number of other crustaceans and molluscs, with the combined value of lobster, crab, mussel and scallop imports increasing by around $60 million (in 2015–16 dollars).

FIGURE 52 Value of crustacean and mollusc imports by value, 2005–06 to 2015–16
TABLE 44 Crustacean and mollusc imports, by value (annual per cent change), 2015–16
Product groupValue ($ million)Volume (tonnes)Value change (%)Volume change (%)
Prawns400.931,919–7–1
Squid and octopus134.823,380215
Scallops55.02,62411–8
Lobsters29.99096–21
Crabs28.71,875–8–6
Mussels20.03,329126
Other crustacean and molluscs129.310,34581
Total720.068,26711

See table S31 for detailed statistics.

Non-edible fishery and aquaculture products

Imports of non-edible fishery and aquaculture products increased by 22 per cent in 2015–16 to $293 million, largely reflecting an increase in the value of reimported pearls (Figure 53). Pearl import value (largely reimported pearls) increased by 49 per cent to $144 million. Imports of marine fats and oils increased by 16 per cent to a record high of $61 million, while the import value of fish meal fell by 4 per cent to $62 million.

FIGURE 53 Value of non-edible imports by product group, 2005–06 to 2015–16
TABLE 45 Non-edible imports by value (annual per cent change), 2015–16
Product groupValue ($ million)Value change (%)
Pearls a144.449
Fish meal61.7–4
Marine fats and oils61.116
Other non-edible imports26.2–1
Total293.422

See table S29 for detailed statistics. a Includes items temporarily exported and reimported.

Imports by source

Edible fishery and aquaculture products

Key sources: Thailand, China, Vietnam and New Zealand

The major sources of Australian edible fishery and aquaculture product imports in 2015–16 (excluding live products) were Thailand ($416 million), China ($292 million), Vietnam ($243 million) and New Zealand ($200 million) (Figure 54). Together, these countries accounted for 64 per cent of imports in 2015–16.

FIGURE 54 Value of edible product imports (excluding live products) by source, 2005–06 to 2015–16
TABLE 46 Source of edible imports by value, 2015–16
DestinationValue ($ million)Volume (tonnes)Value change (%)Volume change (%)
Thailand416.161,280–1–7
China292.234,9593–1
Vietnam243.032,74344
New Zealand199.827,6445–2
Other countries641.966,1521–1
Total1,792.9222,7781–2

See tables S32 to S37 for detailed statistics.

Thailand is Australia’s largest source of imports for edible fishery and aquaculture products (by value), followed by China and Vietnam. The major product group imported from Thailand is prepared or preserved tuna (mostly canned tuna). Significant imports from China include frozen scallops and squid and octopus. Imports from New Zealand predominantly prepared or preserved (finfish) fish and mollusc products.

Non-edible fishery and aquaculture products

Key sources: Peru, China and Indonesia

Non-edible fishery and aquaculture import products are dominated by reimported Australian products, predominantly pearls (allocated to ‘Other’ category).

With respect to non-edible imports that were not reimported, Peru ($30 million), China ($25 million) and Indonesia ($17 million) were the dominant contributors to non-edible fishery and aquaculture import earnings in 2015–16 (Figure 55).
These three countries accounted for around a quarter of non-edible import earnings in 2015–16.

FIGURE 55 Value of non-edible imports by source, 2005–06 to 2015–16
a ‘Other countries and re-imports’ are predominately reimports.
TABLE 47 Source of non-edible imports by value (annual per cent change), 2015–16
Product groupValue ($ million)Value change (%)
Peru30.515
China24.768
Indonesia17.010
Other countries and reimports a238.325
Total293.422

See table S37 for detailed statistics. a Predominately reimports.

Last reviewed:
27 Apr 2018