Location: Northern Territory, Australia

Sector: Aquaculture

Investment type: Various options available including purchase, lease, joint venture or partnerships with indigenous enterprises

Estimated total project cost: Variable dependent on location, scale and infrastructure

Investment amount sought: Various

Project status: Proposed


The aquaculture industry in the Northern Territory (NT) is currently valued at AU$25 million per annum with Australia’s largest tiger prawn farm, Project Sea Dragon, currently progressing through approvals towards development.

The production of pearls from the silver-lipped oyster is currently the most significant aquaculture industry sector in the NT with barramundi farming the next most valuable.

The opportunity

There is a significant opportunity for expansion of the aquaculture industry. While wild caught seafood is not expected to increase on a global scale, the demand for seafood continues to rise with increases in population and the rising middle class, especially in South East Asian markets.

Aerial view of a fish farm

NT advantages

Key advantages for large-scale aquaculture production in the NT are:

  • Minimal competition by other coastal users, such as industrial manufacturing, urban coastal growth and recreational users of the coastline and seas.
  • Broad support and engagement by Aboriginal coastal communities for fisheries-based economic development and employment opportunities.
  • Pristine waters offering clean, safe and natural production and product branding.
  • Proximity to Asia with its rapidly growing wealthier middle class.
  • Warm year-round seawater temperatures offering substantial production cost savings through significantly reduced production times.
  • Support from the NT Government including case management, investment facilitation services and a dedicated government owned aquaculture research facility.
  • Opportunity for solar power options.
  • Low sovereign risk.

Types of aquaculture

  • Sea cucumber (trepang) ranching
  • Large-scale pond-based farming: prawns, mud crabs, barramundi, snapper, algae
  • Large-scale sea-based finfish cage farming: including for example barramundi, jewfish
  • Aquarium products: corals, ornamental fish, giant clams
  • Tropical rock oysters
  • Seaweed and algae.

Giant clam Hands holding sea cucumber

Hand holding prawns Rainbowfish


The NT offers 10 953 kilometres of coastline and premium near shore and land-based locations with valuable biosecurity credentials.

Snake Bay on Tiwi Islands (80kms north of Darwin) has advanced environmental impact studies for sea-based activities.

The NT Pastoral Land Act allows diversification of pastoral leases for land based aquaculture developments.

Contact details

Linda Lee
Director Agribusiness Development
Department of Primary Industry and Resources

Phone: +61 8 8999 6058


Disclaimer: This web page includes information provided by third parties. The information is general in nature and is for information purposes only. The Northern Territory Government makes no representation about the veracity or accuracy of information provided by third parties. You must rely on your own due diligence before proceeding. You should consider seeking independent professional advice.