Aquaculture tipped to lead seafood’s pandemic recovery

Australia’s seafood industry is on the cusp of an aquaculture-led recovery with salmon, prawns and oysters expected to help lift the sector back into positive territory.

Latest Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science (ABARES) data reveals production value is forecast to slide six per cent in 2020-21 to $2.9 billion because of COVID-19 and trade disruptions. But thanks largely to a projected uplift in aquaculture production, overall industry values are set to climb again — at an average annual rate of 1.6 per cent to 2025–26 — with export values also on the rise.

ABARES fisheries and aquaculture forecaster Robert Curtotti said the impact of COVID-19 has been complex, disrupting usual trade, particularly for highly export orientated products, such as rock lobster and abalone.

“However, we are seeing signs that recovery is imminent, and the expected growth of aquaculture is set to contribute positively to industry overall. Products focused on the home market are expected to do better over the outlook period than those focused on exports.

“Salmonid production is expected to grow at a yearly average of 4.4 per cent, reaching $1.1 billion in production value by 2025-26 and accounting for 35 per cent of the industry’s entire value of production that year,” he said.

Other aquaculture species expected to see growth include prawns, oysters, abalone, and other finfish varieties including barramundi and kingfish.

Between 2021–22 and 2025–26, real export value is projected to rise by 1.8 per cent to $1.4 billion, with an average annual growth of 0.4 per cent.

The Australian Fisheries and Aquaculture Outlook 2021, released at the ABARES Outlook 2021 online conference today, can be viewed by clicking here.