Marine Industry

Industry Overview

The Australian marine sector is a significant industry in its own right, as well as a major service provider to other industries and a major contributor to the economy through both manufactured products and services.

Australian firms are recognised as a world leader in the design of large, high-speed, multi-hull aluminium vessels. In addition, the sector also has strengths in the production of steel made vessels, catamarans and in the design of environmental friendly and efficient vessels.

Australia's Marine Industry Capability Report

The Department engaged KPMG to prepare a report on Australia’s current marine industry capability and its contribution to the national economy. The report will assist the department’s consideration of issues relating to the sector. To ensure information remains current, the department will continue to review and engage with the sector.

The Australian marine industry includes shipbuilding and boatbuilding and repair, marine equipment manufacturing, and marina operations. The industry is a major contributor to the economy, with $1.7 billion in value added to the Australian economy. It employs 14,600 worker nationally and exports approximately $575 million annually.

There are over 2,000 registered businesses operating in the sector, the majority of which employ up to 19 people, and $1.2 billion was invested in research and development (R&D) between 2001 and 2011.

The report includes seven detailed case studies, which draw out the importance of continued investment in R&D, identifying growing export markets, the need for skilled workers, and the benefit from increased collaboration within the industry to lead the market.

Industry consultations undertaken as part of the study identified growth opportunities and challenges.

Download the report:

Domestic Shipbuilding Market

Domestic shipbuilding is made up of both civil and defence components. The sector places considerable importance on research and development (R&D). For example, as result of this R&D, Australia is a world leader in high-speed production ferries and currently supplies 45 per cent of the world market.

The Australian Government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan is an investment in the nation’s sovereign industrial capability, providing confidence to the shipbuilding and sustainment industries to invest in growing and diversifying their businesses. It is also an essential part of the a whole-of-government support to innovation, investment in skills, and R&D development, including the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), and the broader Australian innovation system. The Naval Shipbuilding Plan can be accessed through the Department of Defence.

The Australian Government is committed to coastal shipping reform to ensure safe, secure and efficient coastal shipping as part of Australia’s national transport system. The government has released a discussion paper on the proposed amendments, which can be found on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s website.

There are a number of industry stakeholders that work to promote the capability of the marine sector. Links to industry association web sites can be found at the bottom of the page.

International Shipbuilding Market

Australian industry has markets across the world. The Department of Foreign Affair and Trade (DFAT) has an information and tariff portal outlining each free trade agreement and relevant tariff information. Visit the free trade arrangement landing page for further information.

Austrade is running an Australia-wide outreach programme in conjunction with DFAT engaging with businesses on the opportunities of recently concluded free trade agreements. In addition, the marine sector has effectively used the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) to gain access to export markets. Visit the Austrade website for more information on how Austrade can help your business.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) provides an international platform for the exchange of information, as well as elaboration of economic and policy analysis of the shipbuilding sector, including country-level peer reviews of domestic shipbuilding industry and related government policies. Current and past work can be accesssed on the website of the OECD Council Working Party on Shipbuilding (WP6).


Industry Growth Division
Telephone: Switchboard 1800 024 095

Related links

Industry association websites:

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