This chapter outlines the main features of two important primary industries in Australia, forestry and commercial fishing.
The forests and wood products industries, based on native and plantation forests, account for about 1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment of nearly 75,000 people. While the value of exports and imports of forest products is substantial (about $1.6b and $3.8b respectively in 1999-2000), Australia is a net importer of forest products.
Australia's fisheries resources are diverse. Over 3,000 species of marine and freshwater fish, and at least an equal number of crustacean and mollusc species, occur in and around Australia. Less than 600 of these are commercially exploited. However, almost all the major known fish, crustacean and mollusc resources are fully exploited. Aquaculture, or 'fish farming', is an alternative to harvesting the naturally occurring fish stocks and has considerable potential as a way to ensure the sustainability of harvesting yields.
The gross value of Australian fisheries production was about $2.3b in 1999-2000, of which aquaculture accounted for 29%, the same as in the previous year. Exports and imports of fisheries products were valued at $2.0b and $1.1b respectively in 1999-2000, making Australia a net exporter of these products.