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Australian waters contain a great variety of marine life, but the annual catch is relatively small—214,227 metric tons in 1997. More than 85 percent of the yearly value of exported fishery products is made up of various shellfish, principally scallops, shrimp, spring and green rock lobsters, oysters, and abalone. Marine fishes marketed include orange roughy, sharks and rays, skipjack tuna, mullet, southern bluefin tuna, and escolar. Pearls and trochus shells have been harvested off the northern coast since the 1800s. Darwin, Broome, and Thursday Island are the main pearling centers, but cultured pearls are now more significant. The cultured pearl industry is dominated by Japanese-Australian ventures. Australia was a principal whaling nation until the late 1970s, when it agreed to halt most whaling activities in cooperation with an international effort to maintain the whale population.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|