The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has released a new report that indicates the continued growth of the country’s marine industry, despite the effects of COVID-19 restrictions on some sectors. The AIMS Marine Industry Index 2023 evaluates the contribution of the marine industry to the national economy, using data from the financial years 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21. The report shows that the total output of the country’s marine industry was worth A$118.5 billion (US$774 million), which supported 462,000 full-time equivalent jobs (direct and indirect). This is an increase of A$37.3 billion from the previous report.
The growth was attributed to the emergence of four new sectors that were assessed for the first time, including non-fishing recreational activities, water transport support services, defense, sewerage, and drainage services. Collectively, these sectors generated A$31.4 billion. Despite the decrease in economic output in the maritime tourism, commercial fishing, and water transport sectors due to COVID-19 measures, the offshore gas industry has offset these losses by increasing production. According to AIMS CEO Dr. Paul Hardisti, the marine industry has been a significant contributor to Australia’s economic wealth.
However, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the international tourism industry. Despite this, Western Australia has emerged as a marine resource-driven economy powerhouse in the 2023 index, with seafood output worth $54.7 billion in 2020-21, accounting for 46% of the country’s total seafood output. Offshore natural gas production accounted for 68% of the state’s marine economy output. Meanwhile, intrastate destinations are receiving more attention among holidaymakers who previously travelled interstate or overseas since border travel restrictions have become stricter.
Despite the effects of the pandemic, the marine industry’s growth rate has increased by 11% CAGR, from $31.9 billion in 2017-18 to $43.7 billion in 2020-21. The index also notes that the expansion of the marine industry is likely to continue with the emergence of new sectors such as marine renewable energy, sustainable aquaculture practices, and by-products that reduce ocean pollution. Australia has already taken steps towards these developments by announcing its first offshore wind development zone at the end of 2022.