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, fisheries, and forestry sectors in Tasmania and the recent financial performance of the Tasmanian broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
Tasmania covers an area of around 68,401 square kilometres and is home to approximately 522,200 people (ABS 2018). Agricultural land in Tasmania occupies 18,900 square kilometres, or around 28 per cent, mostly in the north and east of the state. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 32,650 square kilometres, or 48.5 per cent of the state. The most common land use by area is nature conservation, which occupies 19,400 square kilometres or 29 per cent, mostly in the west and south–west of the state (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 249,200 people were employed in Tasmania.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 38,500 people, followed by retail trade with 26,400 people, and construction with 22,100 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were education and training; accommodation and food services; and public administration and safety. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 12,500 people, representing 5 per cent of the state's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in Tasmania was $1.6 billion, which was about 3 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Australia ($59 billion).
The most important individual commodities in Tasmania based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($429 million), followed by cattle and calves ($337 million) and potatoes ($123 million). These commodities together contributed 55 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the state.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2016–17 there were 2,426 farms in Tasmania with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The state contains about 3 per cent of all farm businesses in Australia.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Tasmania, 2016–17
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of Tas to Australian total %|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||693||28.5||24,210||2.9|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||439||18.1||6,248||7.0|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||311||12.8||2,679||11.6|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||295||12.2||8,387||3.5|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||155||6.4||4,970||3.1|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||127||5.2||9,871||1.3|
|Stone Fruit Growing||50||2.1||532||9.4|
|Other Grain Growing||46||1.9||11,771||0.4|
|Berry Fruit Growing||43||1.8||389||11.1|
|Apple and Pear Growing||37||1.5||497||7.4|
|Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing||24||1.0||1,762||1.4|
|Nursery Production (Outdoors)||23||1.0||639||3.7|
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 table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (693 farms) were the most common, accounting for 29 per cent of all farms in Tasmania.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 31 per cent of farms in Tasmania had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 4 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2016–17. In comparison, 17 per cent of farms in the state had an EVAO of more than 1 million and accounted for an estimated 61 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in Tasmania in 2016–17.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in Tasmania.
Tasmania has a range of wild–catch finfish, crustacean, mollusc and aquaculture fisheries production. Hobart is the main fishing port in Tasmania servicing fishers across a range of commercial fishing activities. The Greater Hobart region is also renowned for its significant Atlantic salmon aquaculture sector. In the region, the Derwent River, Frederick Henry Bay and Norfolk Bay estuaries are popular sites for both recreational and commercial fishing. The rest of Tasmania is predominantly a wild–catch production area for shellfish, in particular Southern rock lobster, abalone and scallop, and finfish occurring mostly along the south west coast of Tasmania and at King Island. The Tasmanian greenlip abalone population is abundant along the north coast and around the Bass Strait islands. King Island is a large centre for giant crab production. Georges Bay and Ansons Bay are key shellfish producing areas, including cockles, clams and some aquaculture oysters. The ports of Bridport and St. Helens are important landing sites for scallop fishers operating in both Commonwealth and Tasmanian fisheries. Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout aquaculture also occurs in Macquarie Harbour.
In 2015–16 the gross value of Tasmanian fisheries production is estimated to be around $913 million, an increase of 11 per cent ($879 million) from 2014–15. Tasmania contributed 30 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 20 per cent ($182.3 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 80 per cent ($730.7 million).
Tasmania's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by two main products, abalone and southern rock lobster, which account for 44 per cent and 51 per cent, respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production in 2015–16. Over the past decade the real value of Tasmania's wild–caught fisheries products has reduced by 16 per cent to $182.3 million 2015–16. The decline in value was driven by 61 per cent decline in the total volume of wild–catch fisheries products.
The product for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade is abalone (both wild–caught and aquaculture), falling by 40 per cent to $83 million in 2015–16. This was the result of a 29 per cent reduction in volume. A large proportion of abalone is exported, mostly to Hong Kong, China and Japan. Exchange rate movements have a significant effect on the value of abalone exports and, in turn, production.
Southern rock lobster accounts for a significant proportion of Tasmanian wild–catch production, accounting for 24 per cent and 51 per cent of the total volume and value, respectively, of wild–catch production in 2015–16.
Commonwealth fisheries active in the Tasmania region include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) and the Shark Gillnet, Hook and Trap Sector (supplies gummy shark or 'flake' to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery and Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) also operate in the waters off Tasmania.
The importance of aquaculture in Tasmanian fisheries production increased over the past decade. Over the past decade the real value of aquaculture production tripled reaching $730.7 million in 2015–16, representing around 80 per cent of the state's fisheries production. Most of the growth in aquaculture production is attributed to increases in the output of farmed salmonid species, in particular Atlantic salmon.
In 2015–16, Tasmanian fisheries product exports were valued at $186.9 million. China and Vietnam, are the major destinations for Tasmania fisheries exports, accounting for 35 per cent and 24 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include Hong Kong (20 per cent) and Japan (7 per cent).
Recreational fishing is popular in Tasmania with an estimated 98,000 Tasmanian residents (5 years and over) participating in the activity in the 12 months prior to October 2012 (Lyle, Stark, & Tracey 2014). In its survey of recreational fishers in Tasmania found that most fishing effort is directed to South East region (27 per cent). The key species caught by recreational fishers include Flathead, Australian salmon, Trout, Gurnards, Black Bream and Wrasse.
In 2016–17, the total plantation area in Tasmania was 309,900 hectares, comprised of 233,900 hectares of hardwood plantations and 75,900 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species planted are blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens). The main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, there were 3.3 million hectares of native forests in Tasmania, comprised mainly of eucalypt medium woodland forest (1.0 million hectares), eucalypt tall open forest (831,000 hectares), rainforest (699,000 hectares), and eucalypt tall woodland forest (259,000 hectares). There were 1.5 million hectares of native forests in nature conservation reserves, 806,000 hectares were privately managed and 612,000 hectares were multiple-use public forests.
In 2016–17, the volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in Tasmania was 2.6 million cubic metres valued at $167 million. The volume of native hardwood logs harvested was 1.2 million cubic metres valued at $85 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 1.4 million cubic metres valued at $106 million.
In 2016, Tasmania had 30 sawmills (including three softwood sawmills), two post and pole processors, five wood-based panel processors, and one paper and paperboard processor. Tasmania’s has the most log and woodchip export facilities (nine in total) nationally. All these processors are located throughout Tasmania. The major timber processing centres include Bell Bay, Boyer, Launceston, and Smithton. The principal ports exporting forest products are located at Bell Bay, Burnie and Hobart.
In 2016–17, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Tasmania was $374 million. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2016–17.
In 2016, the Tasmanian forestry sector employed 2,440 persons (1.2 per cent of all persons employed in Tasmania), compared with 3,414 (1.6 per cent) in 2011. The number of persons employed includes in the following subsectors combined: forestry and logging; forestry support services; wood product manufacturing; and pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing.
ABARES 2016, Land Use of Australia 2010–11, ABARES, Canberra, May.
ABARES 2018, Catchment scale land use of Australia – December 2018, Canberra, December.
ABS 2018, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 10 January 2019.
ABS 2019a Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, Feb 2019, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 03 April 2019.
ABS 2019b Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2017-18, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 May 2019.
Lyle, J.M., Stark, K.E. & Tracey, S.R. 2014,2012–13 Survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.