• GVP $213 million est. Up 7% year-on-year.
  • Land-based aquaculture has experienced significant growth over the last 5 years.
  • Global seafood demand continued to grow, driven by strong demand for high value seafood.
DPI analysis estimated the gross value of NSW fisheries during 2022-23 at $213 million, up 7% year-on-year. The wild harvest sector GVP value was estimated at $100 million in 2022-23, an increase of 6% year-on-year and contributing 47% to total fisheries GVP. The aquaculture sector GVP value was estimated at $114 million, up 8% year-on-year and contributing 53% to total fisheries GVP.

Whilst both sectors again suffered setbacks due to widespread coastal and inland flooding during late 2022, impacting marine water quality and causing losses and damage to estuarine and land-based aquaculture production, seafood prices were higher to stable depending on the commodity due to ongoing strong demand for high-value seafood products.

At the date of publication, detailed industry production information for 2022-23 is not available, consequently the following Wild Caught and Aquaculture commentary analyses 2021-22 industry data.

Wild Harvest ah

Fish were the biggest contributor by volume (recorded landings) to the wild caught sector in 2021-22, however landings declined by 23% year-on-year. Landings for crustaceans and molluscs also both decreased year-on-year (19% and 11% respectively). There was an overall decline in catch volume of 21% year-on-year to 9,097 tonnes. 103 The estimated value of the catch also declined 8% year-on-year in 2021-22, reflective of the lower production volume and lower real prices for seafood. 102

NSW fisheries are managed via limits on the allowable catch (maximum amount of a particular species that can be taken by commercial fishers) or effort (maximum amount of fishing effort such as days, that can be used by commercial fishers). These controls ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of the NSW commercial fishing industry.

Commercial Wild Harvest Volume and Value 103

  • Estuary General
  • Estuary Prawn Trawl
  • Inland
  • Ocean Hauling
  • Ocean Trap & Line
  • Ocean Trawl
  • Southern Fish Trawl
  • Abalone
  • Sea Urchin & Turban Shell
  • Lobster
  • s37 Permit
  • Total Value (RHS)

Aquaculture ah

The growth in the value of NSW aquaculture in 2021-22 was largely driven by the continuing increase in land-based aquaculture, up 17% year-on-year and up 146% over the past 10-years. 104 Whilst there is a variety of aquaculture production systems used to culture aquaculture species, NSW has large areas suitable for land-based aquaculture with access to high quality surface water, ground water, estuarine and marine waters. Land-based facilities culture finfish, crustaceans, algae and ornamental species in earthen and lined ponds, tanks and aquaria.

Increases in Murray Cod and Black Tiger Prawn production has underpinned the growth in land-based aquaculture. Historically, commercial Murray Cod hatcheries focused on producing cod fingerlings for stocking into rivers, farm dams and impoundments. These stockings were traditionally used as a method of increasing wild populations while enhancing recreational fishing. However, significant investment has occurred in the industry in recent years and backed by the NSW Government Land Based Aquaculture Strategy, production has soared, with the value of Murray Cod increasing from $4.3 million in 2017-18 to $14.8 million in 2022-23. 104 The iconic fish has become highly marketable over the past few years, and domestically, is fast becoming a fine dining staple. 106 107

Oysters remained by far the largest aquaculture sector, contributing 56% of the total aquaculture value (Incl spat). 104 Production remained relatively steady year-on-year however there was a slight increase in the price received per dozen, particularly for Pacific Oysters. 104

NSW Aquaculture Production Comparisons 104

  • Hatchery
  • Land
  • Oysters (incl spat)
  • Others
  • Total
Murray Cod, Barramundi, and Black Tiger Prawns, all experienced value growth (up 54%, 28%, and 5% year-on-year respectively). 104 For Murray Cod, a marginal increase in the unit price was boosted by a massive 46% increase in production. A similar situation supported Black Tiger Prawn and Barramundi growth, although the increases in production were more modest. The average price per kilogram for Silver Perch decreased by 11% year-on-year, with production remaining steady. 104


The value of NSW fisheries exports in 2022-23 grew by a massive 72% year-on-year to reach $62 million, driven by significant year-on-year growth in all key markets, most notably China. 35 China remained the largest export market for NSW fisheries in 2022-23, valued at $29 million, up by an impressive 117% year-on-year. 35 Exports of fresh Atlantic salmon drove the boom in export value, up by 142% year-on-year and accounted for 45% of the value of all NSW fisheries exports in 2022-23. 35

NSW does not produce farmed Atlantic Salmon and whilst some salmon is supplied by wild harvest, this is typically the Eastern Australian Salmon species which is unrelated to Atlantic Salmon. Consequently, salmon exports from NSW are likely not NSW product but Tasmanian-produced product. Until 2021, the volume of NSW salmon exports was relatively small and stable however, exports have boomed in recent years, potentially assisted by the establishment of new air freight supply chains arising from the (now concluded) International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM), which was brought in as a temporary support by the federal government to keep air freight routes open when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and borders were closed. The nature of many fresh,

chilled seafood products (including salmon) and the need to minimize the time taken from harvest to market, dictates the mode of transport and Sydney and Melbourne gateway ports are frequently utilised to reach crucial international flight connections. Additionally, exports to China have also been assisted by the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) under which salmonids are tariff-free. 105

The US remained second largest market for NSW fisheries, growing 42% in value year-on-year to $9.6 million. 35 Fresh or chilled Tuna exports (Southern Bluefin and Yellowfin) were the top exports and key drivers of value, accounting for 72% of all seafood exports to the US.

NSW is a net importer of seafood, with a net trade balance of $945 million of seafood imported in 2022-23, indicating the level of domestic demand for seafood. The major import origins were Vietnam, Thailand, China, and New Zealand although there were many other key import markets. Prawns, preserved Tunas, Mussels, Fish and Fish fillets are some of the key import commodities. 35

Stronger Primary Industries Strategy

Building marine skills capacity in Aboriginal communities

Strategic Outcome

Icon of a cog
Economic Growth
  • 2.1 Improve access to a capable workforce

DPI’s Aboriginal Fisheries team is leading the delivery of a nationally unique, state-wide initiative to protect Aboriginal cultural values of the marine estate under Initiative 4 (I4) of the NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy (MEMS).

The MEMS I4 program has provided opportunities for Aboriginal employment in NSW Government to manage Sea Country through I4 project implementation. Importantly, this employment improves the cultural capability of those involved in the management of the marine estate. The team work closely with staff across multiple Government agencies, industry, key stakeholder groups and community to assist in the delivery of a range of projects which have had outstanding success in increasing participation of Aboriginal people in the management and caring for Sea Country.

Some of the outcomes achieved by MEMS I4 in 2022-23 include:

  • Supported 58 Aboriginal community members complete their Certificate II Maritime Operations Coxswains Grade 1 training with 42 candidates engaged with completing their sea time associated with this training.
  • Supported 27 Aboriginal community members to complete their Coxswains Grade 3 training.
  • Six Aboriginal people on the South Coast completed the inaugural scuba dive (research diver) certification course. This course extends employment outcomes through further capacity building in underwater monitoring and research on Country with NSW DPI research scientists. Already these divers have assisted in paid work seeding 2 million spat of native oyster (Angasi) at Wagonga Inlet, conducting urchin barren surveys with DPI Science team at Dalmeny and urchin barren assessments with University of NSW at Bermagui via MEMS funding support.
  • Four young Aboriginal people have participated in a funded training program as part of DPI Fisheries SMART drumline shark mitigation contracts awarded to two Aboriginal businesses in the Kiama and Eurobodalla local government areas in 2021/22 and 2022/23. The training has enhanced their sea time and coxswain and deckhand training qualifications to further enhance their employability on commercial vessels.
  • 15 cultural tourism assessments have been completed across the coast which have led to the development of 12 cultural tourism business plans to assist with the delivery of Aboriginal-owned business aspirations and growth of cultural tourism in the NSW marine estate.
  • Assisted 31 Aboriginal people from Narooma, Yarrawarra and Port Stephens to obtain their Certificate II in Tourism to enable them to work in tourism related industries.
  • Procured the construction of a dedicated Aboriginal training vessel to support on-water skills-based training program delivery. An associated 16-week trades assistant traineeship from the Yaegl community resulted in a young local Aboriginal person securing an apprenticeship with the Yamba-based boat building company, Yamba Welding.
  • Supported the MiiMi Aboriginal Corporation at Bowraville for training and employment of Aboriginal rangers to deliver environmental monitoring in conjunction with Southern Cross University across the river continuum over four sampling sites around Bowraville as part of the Clean River, Clean Seas project.