Australian Marine Parks

Department of the Environment and Water Resources, 2007.


south-west marine industries cover

About the report

This report provides a description and analysis of the main commercial marine users active in the South-west Marine Region (SWMR).

The SWMR stretches from Kangaroo Island in South Australia, to Shark Bay in Western Australia - from the Territorial Sea Baseline out to 200 nautical miles.

Human use of the SWMR started with Aboriginal settlers who first moved into the region some 40 000 years ago.

European exploitation of the resources of the region began with sealing and whaling in the early nineteenth century, but fishing, shipping and ports soon became important components of the region’s economy.

The range of uses expanded in the twentieth century, particularly in the post World War II period, with a substantial expansion in industrial and minerals activity in both South Australia and Western Australia.

Today, the region has a complex socio-economic structure based on a wide range of industries.

The focus of this report is on those industries which are most closely associated with the SWMR. These industries are:

  • Ports
  • Shipping and ship and boat-building
  • Oil and gas
  • Marine tourism and marinas
  • Submarine cables
  • Defence
  • Commercial fishing
  • Recreational fishing
  • Aquaculture
  • Emerging industries (such as petroleum and biotechnology).

These marine uses have been addressed in terms of current activity and distribution within the region, expected growth, key management and institutional arrangements, and main pressures affecting them.

The report shows that the key industries of the region have grown rapidly over the past decade or so.

The most notable growth has occurred in marine tourism and recreation, ship building, and aquaculture.

At the same time, ports and commercial fishing have remained important commercial activities in the region.

All of these industries underpin economic growth, employment, and social wellbeing in the cities, towns and small communities of the region.

It is also clear that the industries of the region are far from static, and have experienced dynamic changes in their economic structure and geography.

Recent years have also seen the emergence of new industries such as marine biotechnology and desalination, and the prospect of oil, gas and minerals extraction.

This report emphasises that existing and emerging industries also face a number of risks associated with factors such as international trade, global and domestic economic growth, interest and exchange rates, labour market constraints, policy reform and demographic change.

Furthermore, there are potential risks to the marine environment; these risks are associated with virtually all of the industries operating in the region.

This report points out that from a marine planning perspective, it is important to recognise that many of these industries are also dependent on the ecological sustainability of the region’s natural environment.