In 1914, the New South Wales (NSW) Government decided to alter its fisheries policy, with the development of an offshore trawling industry supplanting support for inshore fishing as its key development objective. Accordingly, between 1915 and 1923 the NSW Government operated a commercial trawling industry designed to fish previously unexploited fish stocks on the state’s continental shelf. The State Trawling Industry (STI) was designed to meet a mix of social and economic policy goals, with the NSW Government controlling all parts of the production line from catching to selling produce. This article examines the business structure of the enterprise to reveal the reasons for its economic failure. It argues that government entrepreneurship created a new consumer market and unintentionally paved the way for the rise of a modern private trawling industry.