The pristine waters along Western Australia’s coastline yield a wide variety of the highest quality seafood in the world.
The commercial fishing industry contributes an estimated $400 million annually to the State’s economy and supports coastal communities from Wyndham to Esperance.
Our largest commercial fisheries are western rock lobster, pearls, prawns, scallops and abalone. All of these generate significant export revenue for the State. While some of the finfish harvest is exported, the WA market consumes the majority of the catch. Aquaculture is a growth area for the state.
Most of Western Australia’s fisheries are managed for the State Government by the Department of Fisheries.
The Patagonian Toothfish and Swordfish and Funa fisheries are managed for the Commonwealth Government by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.
Developments over recent years have seen the creation of new fisheries for octopus and the rejuvenation of older fisheries through value adding, which has seen species like sardines taken from a bait fish to a fashionable table fish.
Almost all of the wild catch commercial fisheries are optimally harvested and have limited entry regimes, which means no new licences have been issued since 1983. There are currently approximately 1500 fishing boat licences in Western Australia.
Based primarily on small family businesses, 85% of the commercial activity is conducted in remote coastal communities. The industry, including the catching, processing, exporting and retailing sectors, provides employment for around 10,000 Western Australians and is our third most important industry after mining and agriculture.