About my region is a series of individual profiles of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries in your region. This regional profile presents an overview of the agriculture and fisheries sectors in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region of New South Wales is located in the urbanised coastal area around the city of Newcastle, north of Sydney. The region includes the local government areas of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, and small parts of the Port Stephens and Maitland local government areas to the north. The region covers a total area of around 870 square kilometres or less than 1 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 372,300 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region occupies 286 square kilometres, or 33 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 207 square kilometres, or 24 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation uses, which occupies 204 square kilometres or 24 per cent of the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the November 2018 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 186,000 people were employed in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region. The region accounts for 5 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 1 per cent of all people employed in the New South Wales agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 33,900 people, followed by retail trade with 18,700 people, and construction with 18,200 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were education and training; manufacturing; and professional, scientific and technical services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 700 people, representing less than 1 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2016–17, the gross value of agricultural production in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region was $13 million, which was less than 1 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($14.5 billion).
The most important commodities in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region based on the gross value of agricultural production were poultry ($4 million), followed by eggs ($4 million) and cut flowers ($3 million). These commodities together contributed 87 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2016–17 there were 6 farms in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains less than 1 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region, 2016–17
|Industry classification||Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region||New South Wales|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Nursery Production (Under Cover)|| 3||46.6|| 141||1.9|
|Other|| 3||53.4|| 25,884||0.0|
Note: Estimated value of agricultural operations $40,000 or more. Industries that constitute less than 1 per cent of the region's industry are not shown
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Nursery production (under cover) (3 farms) were the most common, accounting for 47 per cent of all farms in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region, and 2 per cent of all nursery production (under cover) farms in New South Wales.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Most farms in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region are small in terms of EVAO. Around 47 per cent of farms in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region had an EVAO from $350,000 to $500,000. These farms accounted for only 10 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2016–17. In comparison, 53 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 90 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region in 2016–17.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in
New South Wales.
Major ports for commercial fishing in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region include Newcastle and Swansea. Species caught by commercial fishers in the area include prawns, eastern rock lobster, bugs, a range of finfish, and blue swimmer crabs. Recreational fishing occurs in the coastal waters and also in Lake Macquarie. Common species caught by recreational fishers are whiting, luderick, blue swimmer crab, yellowfin bream, dusky flathead, and tailor.
In 2015–16 the gross value of New South Wales fisheries production was estimated to be around $156 million, increasing by 4 per cent ($6 million) from 2014–15. New South Wales contributed 5 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 58 per cent ($91 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 42 per cent ($65 million).
New South Wales wild-catch fisheries provide a range of fisheries products. In 2015–16, finfish species contributed 47 per cent of the wild-catch production, valued at $43 million. The main finfish species landed were sea mullet, with a gross value of production of $9.6 million, followed by black and yellowfin bream ($3.6 million), school whiting ($2.8 million), snapper ($2.0 million), and sand whiting ($1.5 million). Prawns contributed 19 per cent of the total value of wild-catch fisheries with a value of $17.3 million, with other important crustacean groups being eastern rock lobster (13 per cent; $11.8 million), and crabs (10 per cent; $9.5 million).
In 2015–16 the value of New South Wales aquaculture production is estimated to have increased by 7 per cent ($4.2 million) to $65 million. Oyster production makes the greatest contribution to New South Wales aquaculture production, accounting for 68 per cent of production by value, worth $44.3 million. Prawns ($6.0 million) and finfish aquaculture species, including silver perch ($3 million), trout ($2.3 million), and barramundi ($1.0 million) make up most of the remaining aquaculture production.
Commonwealth fisheries active in New South Wales include the Small Pelagic Fishery, the Eastern Tuna and Billfish fishery (mainly supplying export markets with tuna), and the Commonwealth trawl sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark fishery.
In 2015–16, New South Wales fisheries product exports were valued at $23.3 million. The main export products include live and fresh, chilled or frozen fish, rock lobster, and abalone. Japan and Vietnam, are the major destinations for New South Wales fisheries exports, accounting for 45 per cent and 13 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include New Zealand (9 per cent), Spain (5 per cent), and Taiwan (5 per cent).
The New South Wales coast line is an important recreational fishing area, with a multitude of inlets and estuaries from which to fish. Being a tourism precinct, the region offers a number of recreational fishing opportunities, with the value of this activity to the regional economy likely to be significant. There are also a range of game fishing tournaments throughout the year, including in the Bermagui and Port Stephens area, targeting tuna and marlin species. New South Wales also contains a number of recreational only fishing areas, especially in the far south coast of New South Wales, a popular destination for both marine and freshwater recreational fishers. A large number of recreational fishers also fish in the Greater Sydney area, stretching from Newcastle to the Illawarra area, and comprising the city areas of Newcastle, Sydney, and Wollongong. Species commonly targeted in the area include yellowfin bream, dusky flathead, yellowtail, blue swimmer crab, squid, and southern calamari (Steffe & Murphy 2011).
Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 10 January 2019.
Steffe, AS & Murphy, JJ 2011,
Recreational fishing surveys in the Greater Sydney Region. Fisheries final report series, no. 131, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Cronulla, New South Wales.