Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) is considered an iconic fish of northern Australia. It is a large, majestic silver fish, which can grow to over one metre in length. It is prized by recreational fishers for its fighting spirit, is popular with diners for its mild flavour and tender, white flesh and is an important food source and spiritually important species for many Indigenous Australians. However, Lates calcarifer native fisheries go beyond Australia and the fish is known internationally as Asian sea bass, giant perch or giant sea perch. In addition to northern Australia, barramundi can be found in the Persian Gulf, South East Asia, China, southern Japan and Papua New Guinea.
Barramundi is an Aboriginal word meaning “large scaled silver/river fish” and was adopted as a marketing name in Australia in the 1980s to promote consumption. Demand for barramundi is so high that around 70% of the fish consumed in Australia is imported from countries like Thailand and Vietnam (as at 2013). This demand contributes to its popularity as a choice for aquaculture.
The Australian farmed-barramundi industry started in the mid 1980s and barramundi is now farmed in every state of Australia (except Tasmania) and the annual farm gate value of production is estimated to be AU$45 million (as at 2013).
Barramundi can be farmed in a number of ways, from indoor recirculating aquaculture (tanks) systems, to land-based pond operations and sea cages. As at 2013, there are approximately 100 licensed barramundi farmers in Australia, producing around 5,000 tonnes of fish.
The peak body for barramundi (aquaculture) producers is the Australian Barramundi Farmers Association.
Facts and figures
- Barramundi is a popular fish in restaurants and home cooking
- Demand for barramundi in Australia is high and approximately 70% of consumption is from imported Lates calcarifer
- Barramundi is farmed in all states of Australia except Tasmania
- Barramundi can be grown in indoor recirculating or flow-through aquaculture (tank) systems, land-based pond operations and sea cages
- As at 2013, the farm gate value of Australian barramundi production was AU$45 million
- Aquaculture operations have high infrastructure costs and require significant amounts of daily management
- Barramundi is sold as whole chilled fish, live fish and fillets
Barramundi is farmed in all states of Australia, except Tasmania. As at 2013, there were approximately 100 barramundi farmers in Australia and the industry has an estimated value of production of around AU$45 million at the farm gate.
The size and nature of operations varies greatly, from boutique operations, usually based on tank systems, to large-scale pond or sea cage systems.
As at 2012, Australia produced 5,000 tonnes of barramundi from aquaculture and 2,000 tonnes of wild catch barramundi. Australia imported 10,000 tonnes of Lates calcariferfrom countries like Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, mostly as frozen fillet (during 2012).