Promising signs for aquaculture industry

Promising signs for aquaculture industry

Two reports released this week show there has been growth in South Australia's aquaculture industry and a slight decrease in the value of commercial fisheries.

The state government released two independent reports which indicate the state's aquaculture industry has grown to $229 million in 2019-20, while the value of commercial fisheries had decreased by $46m.

The Economic Contribution of Aquaculture in the South Australian State and Regional Economies for 2019-20 found the total value of aquaculture production increased by eight per cent and total aquaculture production increased by nine per cent compared to 2018-19.

Employment in the sector is estimated at more than 1000 full-time equivalent jobs, with almost 1500 flow on jobs - an increase of about 5 per cent from 2018-19.

The Economic Indicators for the Commercial Fisheries of South Australia Summary Report 2019/20 showed a decrease in gross value of production across all fisheries to $240m.

While value decrease, the total catch from South Australia's commercial fisheries has seen an increasing trend since 2000-01, despite year-to-year fluctuations.

The report showed the total catch in 2019-20 was 48,448 tonnes, a slight decrease of 721 tonnes from the previous year's total of 49,169 tonnes, with sardines the largest volume fishery - with a total catch of 39,889 tonnes.

Primary Industries Minister David Basham said the report highlighted the strength of South Australia's aquaculture industry.

"To see the value of South Australia's aquaculture industry grow is a testament to those working in the sector in the face of a challenging couple of years," he said.

"Aquaculture is a crucial part of the state's economy supporting thousands of jobs with about 70 per cent of these in regional South Australia."

Southern Bluefin Tuna remains the largest single aquaculture sector, accounting for about 60 per cent, or $137m, of the state's gross value of aquaculture production in 2019-20.

The other four main sectors are Marine Finfish ($39.61 million), Oysters ($24.95 million) and Abalone ($11.97 million).

Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association chief executive officer Brian Jeffriess told the Port Lincoln Times the industry had faced challenges in recent years, but that it was being well supported by federal and state governments, and that there were signs of further recovery.

"There's a real reason to be optimistic for the medium-to-longer-term because the more fish that go into the farms the bigger the industry will be," he said.

Mr Basham said despite the drop in value there were still about 4300 full-time equivalent jobs associated with commercial fishing in the state.

"It's been a challenging couple of years for our fishing industries with the uncertainty of COVID-19 and disruptions to trade markets leading to lower price to typically strong sectors such as rock lobster, prawn and abalone," he said.

"Despite these challenges the commercial fishing industry has shown great resilience and still remains a key part of South Australia's economy supporting thousands of jobs across the state."