New South Wales

The main climate pressures affecting fisheries and the marine environment in New South Wales (NSW) are changes in ocean temperatures, rainfall and ocean acidity. Understanding the effects of these changes can assist in understanding the likely impacts to coastal communities.

Increased ocean temperatures have a negative impact on commercial, recreational and charter fishing as well as shipping, ports and marinas in NSW. These impacts are due to potential species range shifts, forcing some commercially valuable and popular recreational species to move further south into cooler waters. Warmer waters may also increase the prevalence and survival of pests and diseases which can have negative impacts on all fisheries, marine tourism and shipping, ports and marinas. Additional regulations may be placed on shipping, and monitoring/remediation may be required to deal with pests and diseases in ports and marinas.

Rack- and pen-based aquaculture are negatively affected by changes in rainfall, particularly flood events. Floods wash bacteria, nutrients and pesticides into coastal waters which can affect aquaculture production. Rack-based aquaculture in New South Wales may also be adversely impacted by increased ocean acidity which can soften the shells of oysters and other shellfish species.

High value species

New South Wales commercial wild capture fisheries had a total value around  $75m in 2010/11 (13 479 t). The highest value fisheries in NSW target various finfish species (approximately $17m) followed by king prawn ($8.6m), rock lobster ($7.7m) and sea mullet ($7.7m). The ranking of the highest production fisheries is similar to that for value with ‘other’ finfish (4333 t) and sea mullet (3046 t) ranking first and second. The tonnes of rock lobster and king prawns are much lower at 129 t and 451 t (in 2010/11) suggesting they have a substantially higher value by weight.


The main species produced in the New South Wales aquaculture sector in 2010/11 was the pacific oyster (3883 t and valued over $38m). Other aquaculture species in NSW include blue mussels (29 t, $164 000), barramundi (75 t, $938 000), silver perch (240 t, $2.8m) and yabbies (19 t, $217 000).

Recreational fishing

A study into recreational and Indigenous fishing found that approximately 17% of residents in New South Wales participated in recreational fishing between May 1999 and May 2000 (Henry and Lyle 2003). This was the second lowest participation rate behind Victoria. Recreational and Indigenous fishers in NSW catch mainly flathead, tunas, bream and European carp.

Other sectors

In addition to fishing and aquaculture, New South Wales has an active shipping/sea freight industry as well as marine tourism and employment in ports and yacht clubs.

NSW ports employ approximately 22% of all Australian port employees. The employees service the relatively large shipping/sea freight industry which is ranked second in value (exports and imports) behind Western Australia.

Marine tourism is important in NSW; more money is generated by marine tourism in NSW than in other states, which in 2008/09 this amounted to 34% of the national total (Hooper and van Zyl 2011). The state hosts the greatest number of whale watchers in Australia. Other marine pursuits popular in NSW include scuba diving and sailing. NSW has 118 yacht clubs, the largest number of any state.

Climate and sealife