This chapter outlines the main features of two important primary industries in Australia - forestry and commercial fishing.
Australia's native and plantation forests are an important natural resource. They provide the majority of timber and paper products used by Australians and support other products and services, such as honey, wildflowers, natural oils, firewood and craft wood. Forests also protect soils and water resources, and have the valuable capability to absorb harmful carbon gases. As well, forests are the foundation for a broad range of cultural and spiritual experiences, and recreational and educational activities.
Australia's wood and paper products industries include hardwood and softwood sawmilling, plywood and panels manufacturing, woodchip production and export, and the pulp and paper industries. While providing most of its sawn timber needs, Australia is still a net importer of forest products.
The Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) covers offshore waters from 3 to 200 nautical miles seaward of the territorial sea baseline of Australia and its external territories and is the third largest in the world. Of the 6,000 species of marine and freshwater fish, crustaceans and molluscs occurring in the waters in and around Australia, less than 10% are commercially harvested. Aquaculture is a rapidly growing primary industry, accounting for over 40% of the total gross value of production of the Australian seafood industry in 2007-08 (up from around 23% in 1997-98).
A significant proportion of Australian fisheries production is exported with around 43% of Australia’s edible fish exports (excluding live) going to Hong Kong. Japan, the United States of America, Chinese Taipei and Singapore are also important markets. Historically, Australia has been a net importer of fisheries products in volume terms but a net exporter in value terms. In recent years, the gap between imports and exports has closed and in 2007-08 Australia become a net importer of fisheries products in value terms.
The value of production or gross value added of the forestry and fishing industry for 2008-09 was $4,970 million (m), an increase of 8.7 per cent over the previous financial year.
Most of the material on forestry in this chapter was provided by the Bureau of Rural Sciences and that on fishing provided by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
This chapter contains the article Biodiversity and the Australian fishing sector.