Revolutionising Australia’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector through a Circular Economy

In a world where environmental sustainability has become a pressing concern, the concept of a circular economy has emerged as a beacon of hope.

KPMG Australia’s Circular Economy team is leading the way with a ground-breaking materials flow analysis for the fisheries and aquaculture sector, as part of a pioneering three-year program, funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) and Regional Circularity Cooperative (RCC). To celebrate Circularity 2023, we are excited to share the preliminary results of our ground-breaking Material Flow Analysis (MFA) for the nationwide fisheries and aquaculture sector.

Materials Flow Analysis: Unveiling Opportunities

A Material Flow Analysis (MFA) is a critical tool for assessing the physical flow of matter and energy within a system. By quantifying the total material usage and end-of-life practices in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, we can pinpoint areas where materials are lost or consumed excessively.

The MFA has encompassed the entire supply chain, from ‘catch to plate’ for commercially and recreationally wild-caught seafood and “hatchery to plate” for aquaculture products. It includes the key materials inputs such as organics (fishmeal and bait), chemicals, electricity, fuel, metals, paper, cardboard, and plastics. The analysis reveals the fate of these materials, whether they are transformed into products, emitted as waste, recycled, composted, sent to landfills, or lost to the environment.


The MFA was generated through developing a bespoke modelling methodology informed by extensive data collection (3000+ documents scoured and web-data scraping) and stakeholder engagement. This included multiple workshops with industry, engagement with 60+ stakeholders, deep dive interviews across various parts of the supply chain, including 5:30am visits to the Sydney Fish Market Auctions (largest wholesale operation in Southern Hemisphere). Additionally, we used AI to help build the materials flow model – including extracting data from 15GB of PDF reports (1970’s – present) from clients and public sources to assist in filling data gaps and assumptions.

Revealing the insights

The culmination of our stakeholder consultation and modelling was distilled into two materials flow assessments. The outcomes of the MFA offer a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the sector’s material flows.

Preliminary findings, from the draft report, which is currently under review, indicate that the material inputs that dominate the sector include bait and fishmeal, which together account for a significant portion of material consumption. Following closely are fuel inputs for vessels and generators.

Enablers and Potential Interventions: Paving the Way for Change

Based on the MFA results, ten key enablers and potential interventions have been identified for the fisheries and aquaculture sector, full results, enablers and potential interventions will be published on the FRDC website.

These enablers provide a strategic backdrop for a sector-wide transition to a circular economy. Material-specific potential interventions to optimise value and minimise material consumption were also identified, such as investigating alternative bait, prioritising decarbonisation efforts, efficient use of effluents, recycling offal, and responsible management of fishing gear and packaging.

Embracing the Circular Economy

The Australian fisheries and aquaculture sector faces numerous challenges, but also clear opportunities for transformation. By strategically implementing these interventions and adopting a circular economy mindset, we can unlock substantial value from material losses, ensuring a sustainable future for the sector and the environment.

KPMG is committed to supporting this journey, and we look forward to observing the positive impact it will have on Australia’s fisheries and aquaculture sector and applying our bespoke methodology to other sectors.

Together, we can turn the tide towards a more sustainable and circular future.

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