Fishing Industry Opportunities to Contribute to Mitigation

For the global average temperature to rise no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2050, the world will need to produce less than half the amount of additional greenhouse gases that it does now.

The latest findings are summarised in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report 2017.

Australian fisheries operations are not a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, there are smart business reasons to be more energy and fuel efficient and therefore participate in reducing the world’s greenhouse gas pollution.

Certain fishing activities rely upon and use a lot of fossil fuel — for example, all large vessels and aquaculture systems that rely on pumping and circulating water. Fuel costs in some commercial wild catch fisheries can be 40 per cent of all input costs, so there is a large incentive to transition to systems that use less fuel.

Some of the measures available for improving fuel efficiency include:

  1. fuel efficient modern diesel engines
  2. minimising the drag of trawl gear
  3. use of fuel flow meters to determine optimal operating speeds
  4. engine and hull maintenance
  5. efficient hull designs
  6. optimising engine and propulsion systems
  7. fuel efficient pumping gear and farm layout
  8. solar or wind driven pumping systems.


Adaptation options for fishing sectors

Fishing and aquaculture is subject to uncertainty caused by the effects of climate change. Flow-on effects for fish populations include the abundance and productivity of species and how they are affected by weather patterns. Flows on effects for fisheries activities include fluctuations in operating conditions and markets.

Around Australia, fishing businesses are re-thinking their plans. Industries involved in Atlantic salmon, abalone and rocklobster know they are going to be affected by rising ocean water temperatures. The Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon industry has initiated a research program to examine how to farm fish in warmer waters. This includes selective breeding of heat tolerant fish or farming fish in cooler waters offshore.

Similarly, northern fisheries reliant on Barramundi and prawns understand they will need to contend with a more variable climate and the effects of more variable rainfall patterns on stock populations – booming in runs of wetter seasons and much reduced in drier years.

More variable freshwater flows to estuaries and tidal interchanges will influence habitats and this will alter the distribution of wetland plants and aquatic organisms. Estuarine areas suitable for oyster culture and habitats for crustaceans and juvenile stages of finfish will vary and change.

A list of FRDC- funded project relating to climate change can be found here.


Project Number
Seaweed production as a nutrient offset for Moreton Bay
Travel bursary: Symposium on Responsible Fishing Technology for Healthy Ecosystems and Clean Environment
Blue carbon and the Australian seafood industry: workshop
Disseminating existing bycatch reduction and fuel efficiency technologies throughout Australia's prawn fisheries
Workshop to identify research needs and a future project to reduce bycatch and improve fuel efficiency via Low Impact Fuel Efficient (LIFE) prawn trawls
Comparative sequestration and mitigation opportunities across the Australian landscape and its primary industries