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Australia's Lucrative Blue Economy

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

Home to the third largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world (8.1 million square kilometres), Australia’s marine environment is important to both the economy and national identity. The ocean supports economic growth through an array of marine-dependent industry activities including fishing and aquaculture, offshore oil and gas exploration/extraction, and marine tourism and recreation. With more than 85% of Australians residing within 50km of the coast, the ocean is also a key source of food, energy, health, and leisure.

The AIMS Index of Marine Industry 2023 indicates that Australia’s marine industry, otherwise referred to as the “blue economy”, has demonstrated significant growth despite the impact of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on certain sub-sectors (e.g., marine tourism and wild capture fisheries).

During 2020-21, the Index reveals that Australia’s marine industry generated a total output of $118.5 million and supported 462,000 full time equivalent jobs (direct and indirect employment). The natural gas sub-sector made the largest contribution to this output, at $43.7 billion. In total, marine industries contributed to 5.2% of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) during 2020-2021.

Looking to the future, the impact of novel trends (e.g., climate change adaptation) will begin to change the composition of Australia’s marine industry. We are therefore likely to see the inclusion of sub-sectors such as offshore renewable energy, sustainable aquaculture practices and bio products targeting ocean pollution.

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