A Strategy for Western Australia's Marine Industry
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This strategy has been developed for guiding the Department of Commerce and Trade in its efforts to assist the Western Australian Marine Industry sector to achieve sustained growth and development. It was developed in close consultation with key stakeholder groups including other government agencies and departments and takes into account the Department's own priorities for increasing trade, increasing investment, and increasing regional development.
This document summarises the larger marine strategy source document prepared by consultants.
CURRENT STATE OF THE INDUSTRY
The West Australian Marine Industries includes a diverse collection of ship and boat building, repairing, service and educational, research and technologically based industries. Some sectors, such as the high-speed light-weight ferry construction industry, have been very successful in the export market in recent years, although the extent to which this momentum can be maintained may be uncertain.
Other sectors, such as the construction of steel vessels, appears to depend mainly on the domestic market and is driven by the need to replace an aging tug and trawler fleet.
Ship repairs depend on existing docking and ship lift capacity and the relative cost of transporting vessels in need of repair to local, rather than competing overseas yards. As labour costs increase in Asia relative to Australia, this section could become more competitive.
The considerable demand for construction and maintenance of vessels designed to service the offshore gas and petroleum industry is only partly met within Western Australia. The remoteness of the north west shelf from existing facilities reduces the competitive advantage of Australian yards compared to yards in south east Asia and Darwin
Most recreational and light commercial boats are constructed and maintained domestically. However, many of the fittings, as well as the construction materials, have to be imported, so the domestic proportion of this industry is less than appears at first glance.
Marine biotechnology and extraction of pharmaceutically active chemicals from marine resources is a market opportunity barely touched on at present, although Western Australia's success in land based biotechnology could provide much of the underpinning technological skills and infrastructure required to seize this opportunity. Similarly, mariculture is at present limited to culturing of pearls and oyster flesh and production of mussels for local consumption.
Marine tourism makes up about one third of all tourism activities in Australia. The proportion of marine to land based tourism is probably lower in Western Australia. However, recent tourism promotion of dolphin-human interaction and scuba diving together with improved access to Ningaloo reef and game fisheries, may help redress the balance.
Oceanographic, meteorological and environmental services may become an important marine industry in the future, given the technological infrastructure and the high level of educational attainment in this state. At present they do not appear to be significant contributors to the state's economy.