Fisheries icon


Feature Image
  • Asset 2
    Output $181m est. Up 2% yoy
  • Oyster icon

    Value of Sydney Rock Oyster industry continues to increase

  • Asset 2

    Continued export demand for premium seafood

DPI analysis estimated the value of the fishing industry during 2018-19 at $181.3 million, up 1.9% year-on-year. The aquaculture sector continued to grow, up by an estimated 2.1%, complimented by an increase in the wild harvest sector of an estimated 2% year-on-year.

At the date of publication, detailed industry information is not available, consequently the following production and price commentary analyses 2017–18 industry data.

Supporting our Seafood Future

NSW Government’s Supporting our Seafood Future grants program aims to unlock the potential of our seafood industry by boosting the value of the industry and seeing more local seafood on plates. The program is designed to build marketing and promotion capability within fishing businesses through matched funding grants. Around 86% of seafood eaten in NSW is currently imported, creating a huge opportunity to increase the production and consumption of local seafood and drive economic growth in NSW.

Learn More Media Release

Menindee Fish Rescue

NSW DPI Fisheries rescued 100 fish from two rescues at Menindee moving them to the Narrandera Fisheries Centre with the potential to breed 200,000 fish including Murray Cod, Golden Perch and Silver Perch species. The Narrandera Fisheries Centre produces between 1.5 million and 2 million fingerlings a year. The rescues have resulted in strong support and goodwill from the Menindee community and stakeholders.

Media Release Media Release

Murray Cod Aquaculture

NSW DPI and the Freshwater Native Fish Association were recently successful in attracting funds to develop a best practice Murray Cod production manual to support industry development. Murray Cod aquaculture in NSW is growing rapidly and is now the most valuable farmed fish sector in the state. This comes of the back of new cage technology in irrigation dams and new business models within industry.

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Sydney Rock Oyster disease research

NSW DPI scientists, in partnership with oyster growers, have developed a new QX-resistance trial of 500,000 oysters. After 18 years of research, the breeding program has reached an expected QX survival rate of 80%. QX is a disease of Sydney rock oysters caused by a protozoan parasite and is the disease responsible for wiping out the Hawkesbury oyster industry in 2003.

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Boater, Fisher, Oyster Farmer lease interactions

NSW DPI has made a series of videos available online that were funded through the Recreational Fishing Trust. The series was created to highlight interactions between fishers, boaters and oyster farmers around aquaculture leases. Key messages highlight everyone’s responsibilities to protect water quality, respect farmers, and to not damage leases. These messages are important for the general public to increase awareness of issues affecting recreational fishers and oyster farmers.


NSW Research in Vietnam Oyster Industry

NSW DPI program leader, Dr Wayne O’Connor, was awarded the Medal for Agriculture and Rural Development by the Vietnam Government to acknowledge the work of DPI in establishing a thriving oyster industry in Vietnam. NSW DPI has been working with The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research to develop bivalve production capacity in Vietnam and NSW since 2007, playing a vital role in successful establishment of the industry.

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Marine Waters Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy

NSW DPI contributed to the development of the Marine Waters Sustainability Aquaculture Strategy. A whole of Government initiative, the strategy provides a regulatory and industry best practice framework for the expansion of the NSW marine aquaculture industry in an ecologically sustainable and socially responsible manner. The Strategy covers coastal waters to three nautical miles offshore, but does not include estuaries, and compliments the NSW Land Based Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy and the NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy.

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Be SharkSmart

NSW Government’s SharkSmart program provided summer beachgoers in NSW with the latest science and advice on sharks, with technology in the air, on the water, and on the ground to reduce the risk of shark encounters. Detection technologies include aerial surveillance using helicopters and drones, and tagging and monitoring sharks with satellite linked listening stations through SMART Drumlines. Tagged sharks trigger detection alerts that are posted on the SharkSmart app.

Media Release

Oyster reef restoration project

NSW DPI’s Oyster Reef Restoration project aims to help restore estuarine health by improving water quality and boosting fish stocks. Oyster reefs previously covered vast areas in many NSW estuaries, providing a number of coastal ecosystem benefits. With approximately 99% of oyster reefs in Australia now extinct, their loss is a key driver of coastal waterway degradation. Trial studies will test oyster reef restoration methods and will inform the project that is scheduled to commence in Port Stephens in early 2020.

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Wild Harvest

The wild harvest commercial fishery sector accounted for 55.9% of the total value of the fishing industry in 2017–18. While the value of the sector was up marginally from 2016–17, at $99.5 million, landings (tonnes) were down almost 5%53.

Fish remained the biggest contributor by volume to catch, with 9,025 tonnes landed (up 3.3% year-on-year) and a value of $45.6 million. Crustaceans accounted for just 15% of the total catch weight (1,698 tonnes) however, with a much higher average price per tonne ($25,626 compared to $5,051 for fish), they account for 43.7% of total value, at $43.5 million. These prices reflect supply and demand levels as well as the gourmet nature of species such as lobsters, crabs and prawns53.

With NSW coastal waters divided into 10 regions determined by degrees of latitude, wild harvest was greatest by value ($21.5 million) and weight (2,492 tonnes) between 32 and 33 degrees south (just north of Newcastle). Catch was lowest ($3.67 million and 567 tonnes) between 35 and 36 degrees south (south of Wollongong). Return per tonne was also lowest in this region ($6,442 per tonne). The highest return per tonne was received close to the Queensland border ($13,252 per tonne).

Commercial wild harvest output

Landings (tonnes)

Value ($ million)

  • Crustacean
  • Fish
  • Mollusc
  • Other
Download (.XLSX) Source: DPI (2019c)

Regional fisheries wild harvest catch

NSW Fisheries Background
Landings (tonnes) 713
Return avg. ($) per tonne $13,252
est. GVP $ million $9.45m
Landings (tonnes) 1,497
Return avg. ($) per tonne $9,608
est. GVP $ million $14.38m
Landings (tonnes) 906
Return avg. ($) per tonne $10,037
est. GVP $ million $9.09m
Landings (tonnes) 739
Return avg. ($) per tonne $9,300
est. GVP $ million $6.87m
Landings (tonnes) 2,492
Return avg. ($) per tonne $8,609
est. GVP $ million $21.45m
Landings (tonnes) 1,728
Return avg. ($) per tonne $8,056
est. GVP $ million $13.92m
Landings (tonnes) 1,122
Return avg. ($) per tonne $6,567
est. GVP $ million $7.37m
Landings (tonnes) 569
Return avg. ($) per tonne $6,442
est. GVP $ million $3.67m
Landings (tonnes) 918
Return avg. ($) per tonne $8,989
est. GVP $ million $8.25m
Landings (tonnes) 626
Return avg. ($) per tonne $8,037
est. GVP $ million $5.03m
Download (.XLSX)


Aquaculture output grew by 12% in 2017–18, to reach $78.4 million – 44.1% of total fisheries Output. This growth was largely driven by Sydney Rock Oysters, up 19.8% year-on-year, and by far the largest aquaculture sector, contributing 62% of the total aquaculture value50, 54. Unprecedented investment, and a focus on tourism and marketing, has driven industry development and its transition from small, family operators to a modern business focus104.

In contrast, Pacific Oysters fell by 35% year-on-year to $3 million. Production was impacted by outbreaks of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome in several estuaries in recent years; environmental stressors; and interstate disease events that limited the availability of seed stock104, 50, 54.

Mixed fortunes were experienced by smaller sectors of the industry. Black Tiger Prawn value fell by 26% year-on-year, with a 21% drop in production50, 54. In addition to industry restructure, interstate outbreaks of White Spot disease drove the development of disease mitigation strategies, which included reduced stocking densities104.

Silver Perch, Rainbow Trout and Murray Cod all experienced growth (up 15%, 2% and 11% year-on-year respectively)50, 54. For Rainbow Trout, a 14% drop in production was offset by a 19% increase in unit price. A marginal increase in Murray Cod production was supported by an 11% increase in unit price. Significant investment has occurred in the Murray Cod industry in recent years. The iconic fish is considered highly marketable, with interest from international markets104.

Aquaculture Output 2017-18

Download (.XLSX) Source: DPI (2018); DPI (2019b)
  • Crustaceans
  • Black Tiger Prawn
  • Yabby
  • Yabby (bait)
  • Hatchery species
  • Other species
  • Molluscs
  • Sydney Rock Oyster
  • Pacific Oyster
  • Native Oyster
  • Oyster spat
  • Freshwater fish
  • Barramundi
  • Golden Perch
  • Murray Cod
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Silver Perch


NSW (and Australia as a whole) is a net importer of seafood products. In 2018–19, NSW seafood product imports reached $647.9 million, up 9% year-on-year and 69 times greater than its exports of $9.4 million87.

Key markets for seafood exports were China, Vietnam and Japan. Imported products were primarily sourced from Thailand and other South East Asian countries (48.9%), and China (13.4%). Imports were dominated by lower value products, such as canned tuna and frozen fish fillets and prawns.

At 45.7% of total export value, molluscs were the main export product. Almost entirely live, fresh or chilled Abalone, the key markets were China and Japan. Frozen fish (excluding fillets and other fish meat) was 33.7% of total export value, with more than 70% sent to Vietnam87.

Fish fillets and other fish meat ($193.4 million) and prepared and preserved fish (tunas, skipjack and bonito) ($191.2 million), were the highest value imported seafood products followed by frozen prawns ($129.3 million)87.

NSW seafood product trade

Download (.XLSX) Source: GTA (2019)
  • Molluscs (live, fresh, chilled, frozen, smoked, dried, salted etc)
  • Fish, Frozen (no fish fillets or other fish meat)
  • Fish fillets and other fish meat (fresh, chilled, frozen)
  • Shrimp and Prawns, Frozen, Nesoi
  • Other
  • Prep or pres Fish; Caviar & Caviar Substitutes

Sydney Rock Oyster aquaculture

Download (.XLSX) Source: DPI (2019d)

Production in other estuaries was 126,922 dozen, with a value of $1,056,653. Other estuaries include: Bega River, Bellinger River, Bermagui River, Botany Bay, Clarence River, Nelson Lagoon, Patonga Creek, Richmond River, Shoalhaven River, Tweed River, Wooli Wooli River. Detailed data is not available for confidentiality reasons (≤ 5 current permit holders in the estuary).

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