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The growing demand for seafood

atlantic salmon
Atlantic salmon

Australia’s population is predicted to reach 46 million by 2075. Among the many challenges this will bring is the need for Australia to continue to secure its own food supply, contribute to the food supply of the region and be competitive in global food markets.

Australia’s animal-based food industries have a major role to play in meeting this challenge. The well-established terrestrial livestock sectors (beef, dairy and others) currently export between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of their production, with an annual export value of around $7.5 billion. Thus the livestock sector is well placed to continue to play a major role in Australia’s food supplies and export markets.

In contrast to this, 70 per cent of the seafood that Australians consume is imported, with annual imports of around $1.5 billion. Around 50 per cent of our prawns are imported. This represents a significant opportunity for environmentally and economically sustainable growth of marine aquaculture in Australia.

Aquaculture tanks

Globally, aquaculture has been the fastest growing food production sector since the 1950’s, approximately doubling production each decade. The global growth of aquaculture (7 per cent per year) far exceeds that of human population growth (0.5 per cent per year) and that of food production on land (2 per cent per year).

Of particular significance to Australia is that marine aquaculture is a drought-proof industry and there is huge potential for economically and environmentally sustainable expansion of pond-based marine aquaculture around our northern coast line.

Global aquaculture: what next?

There is no doubt that the supply of quality protein for our fast-growing population counts substantially on aquaculture development. Like many other businesses the aquaculture industry has both advantages and barriers to grow further. In many places aquaculture is considered under-developed despite huge potentials. In contrast, further rapid expansion in other places has been associated with higher risks in various aspects.

CSIRO Aquaculture

prototype water quality sensors
Prototype Water Quality Sensors

CSIRO Aquaculture performs collaborative research with governments, scientific organisations and industries in Australia and all over the world to improve aquaculture. Leveraging a 25 year track record of innovation in our field, we assemble specialist multidisciplinary teams to perform high quality science, build and apply knowledge, provide trusted advice, solve problems and add value to your operation. Many of our scientists come primed with industry experience and are able to quickly drill down to those problems affecting your bottom line while talking a common language.

Our practical and pioneering group is equally at home presenting at a scientific conference, managing complex projects, sampling prawns from a tropical pond in Vietnam, measuring salmon in the snowy Tasmanian highlands, assessing seafood products on the factory floor, designing and managing aquaculture systems, extruding custom made aquafeeds, crunching genetic data, working with cutting edge laboratory technology, or applying disease diagnostic tools. Focused on the outcome and the impact to your business, our ability to get “off the beaten track” and work with you in all types of environments is an important component of our R&D relationships.

Our history

oyster farm
CSIRO Pacific Oyster leases at Pittwater, near Hobart, Tasmania. Photo by Bruce Miller 2002 ©

Our engagement with the aquaculture sector has grown out of long-term relationships between industry and CSIRO researchers. In the 1990s, population geneticists working in the fisheries space assisted both the domestic Atlantic salmon and Pacific oyster farming industries to maintain and manage the genetic resources contained within their stocks of animals.

As those industries (and others) matured CSIRO’s role also matured and transitioned to place increased emphasis on whole-of-system R&D.

Our vision

A vibrant, diverse and sustainable Australian and Global Aquaculture Industry.

Our mission

Deliver innovative science impacts in Breeding and Genomics, Nutrition, Health and Production that transform global aquaculture production.

biofloc birc

Our guiding principles

  • We work at the Global scale to deliver impact for industry, regulators and governments through deep relationships encompassing the CSIRO values
  • We are trusted advisors for Aquaculture R&D, and operate with integrity to undertake excellent science

  • We are thought leaders and agents for transformation of Aquaculture practices

  • We utilise world class Aquaculture R&D facilities

  • We offer rewarding careers and are a magnet for science talent

Please contact one of our team members to find out more about us and what we can do for your aquaculture operation.

Please check out the aquaculture pages on the main CSIRO website and refer to CSIRO’s Agriculture and Food website for further information.

Johanna Lemke, Website Administrator