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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries


Aquaculture is the keeping, breeding, hatching, culturing or harvesting of fish.

In Western Australia, commercial aquaculture produces species including barramundi, abalone, mussels, marron, silver perch, rainbow trout and yabbies. However, the biggest earner is the pearling industry, which specialises in South Sea pearls and brings in about $90 million annually.

Boosting aquaculture in WA 

Aquaculture, the world’s fastest-growing food production sector, is set to overtake capture fisheries as the major source of seafood and projected to provide 62 per cent of global seafood by 2030. Global demand for seafood is increasing and capture fisheries are at, or in some locations may have exceeded, their maximum sustainable yield; therefore, to meet future demand, the growth of aquaculture production will need to increase.

In 2014/15, the value of Australian aquaculture production was approximately $1.2 billion and accounted for 43 per cent of the value of Australian fisheries production. The largest Australian aquaculture industry sector is Tasmanian salmon, which continues to grow substantially and in 2014/15 was worth nearly $650 million.

In Australia, for the decade 2004/05 to 2014/15, the pattern of production has changed significantly, with a shift from the production of wild-caught stocks (down 84,711 tonnes) towards production of aquaculture products (up 41,053 tonnes).

​In Western Australia, the total value of commercial fisheries and aquaculture production (including pearling) in 2014/15 was $570 million, with pearling contributing $68 million and aquaculture $13.3 million.

Extra potential

Besides producing food, aquaculture can also be used for: producing nutritional and industrial compounds; boosting numbers of wild fish for recreational fishing; restoring threatened and endangered species; rebuilding important shellfish habitats; and providing ornamental fish, coral and live rock for aquariums.

Emerging sectors with capacity for growth in WA include species such as coral and artemia. New species groups such as kelp and seaweeds may also emerge.

Aquaculture can benefit Aboriginal communities through opportunities to participate in and help develop the industry. For example, by establishing businesses that provide services for projects, such as environmental monitoring, or developing land and infrastructure that can be leased to aquaculture ventures.

Aquaculture projects integrated with tourism are emerging. Opportunities exist for pastoralists and farmers to use inland saline and artesian waters to grow fish to supplement their incomes.

A commitment to aquaculture will stimulate investment and provide certainty to the industry and community mainly by:

  • ensuring access to natural resources, including coastal waters suitable for large-scale production and wild stocks for use as broodstock;
  • providing investment-ready aquaculture development zones where strategic environmental approvals have been secured;
  • continuing to reduce unnecessary regulation; and
  • continuing to provide strong fish health capability within the Department, such as diagnostic services, advice and support.  

Last modified: 13/09/2017 6:19 PM

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