The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has published a report revealing the growth of the marine industry’s economic output during the COVID-19 pandemic. The AIMS Index of Marine Industry 2023 established that total production accounted for AUD 118.5 billion and employed 462,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the fiscal years of 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21. This increase was due to four new sectors, including recreational activities, defense, and drainage services, making an appearance on the index for the first time.
However, marine tourism, commercial fisheries, and water transportation suffered a slowdown in economic output due to COVID-19. It caused domestic tourism spending to increase in some areas as Western Australia experiences a 19% growth in domestic tourism. The state’s offshore natural gas production was responsible for 68% of its maritime economic output, and nationally, the sector observed significant growth with an average increase of 11% per year.
Technological advancements and improved adaptation to climate change could modify the marine industry, including offshore renewable energy, sustainable aquaculture methods, and by-products that reduce marine pollution. Additionally, Australia announced its first offshore wind power development zone in late 2022, which demonstrates its initiative to expand the industry positively.
Furthermore, the new report data shows a two-speed marine economy, with offshore gas production offsetting marine tourism and commercial fisheries due to COVID-19 restrictions. Despite this setback, AIMS CEO Dr. Paul Hardisty indicates the shipping industry’s considerable contribution to the country’s economic development.
Lastly, the report highlights the growth in water transportation support services, which accounted for AUD 4.7 billion, driving the industry’s expansion. The marine industry is a crucial sector in the Australian economy, which can initiate positive impacts on the massive business community and job creation.