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About my region – South East Tasmania

​​​​​​​​​​​​​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 the South East region and the recent financial performance of the Tasmanian broadacre, dairy a​nd vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The South East region of Tasmania is located in the south east corner of the state but excludes the Hobart statistical area. The region covers the six local government areas of Central Highlands, Derwent Valley, Glamorgan—Spring Bay, Huon Valley, Southern Midlands and Tasman, part of Kingborough, and the regional centres of Dover, Oatlands, Port Arthur, Strathgordon and Triabunna. The region covers a total area of around 23,800 square kilometres or 34.8 per cent of Tasmania's total area and is home to approximately 38,100 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the South East region occupies 6,630 square kilometres, or 28 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 11,560 square kilometres, or 49 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is nature conservation, which occupies 8,950 square kilometres or 38 per cent of the South East region.

Broad land use in the South East region
Shows a map of broad land use in the South East region. It includes a legend which shows the broad land use categories— nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use; grazing native vegetation; production forestry; grazing modified pastures; plantation forestry; cropping; horticulture; intensive uses and water. This map is discussed in the above paragraph.
Source: Catchment scale land use of Australia ABARES 2017


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the November 2018 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 17,300 people were employed in the South East region. The South East region accounts for 7 per cent of total employment in Tasmania and 20 per cent of all people employed in the Tasmanian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 2,400 people, representing 14 per cent of the region's workforce. Accommodation and food services was the second largest employment sector with 1,900 people, followed by construction with 1,600 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were health care and social assistance; retail trade; and education and training.

Employment profile, South East region, November 2018
Shows the number of people employed in the Greater Adelaide region by industry in thousands. The figure is discussed in the previous two paragraphs.
Note: Annual average of the preceding 4 quarters.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 6291.0, Labour Force, Australia 2018

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2016–17, the gross value of agricultural production in the South East region was $237 million, which was 16 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Tasmania ($1.5 billion).

The South East region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were cherries ($50 million), followed by wool ($49 million) and sheep and lambs ($27 million). These commodities together contributed 53 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2016–17 the South East region accounted for 45 per cent ($20 million) of the total value of Tasmania's apple production.

Value of agricultural production, South East region, 2016–17
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the region in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous three paragraphs.
Note: The graph shows only data published by the ABS. Some values were not published by the ABS to ensure confidentiality. The "Other commodities" category includes the total value of commodities not published as well as those with small values.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 7503.0, Value of agricultural commodities produced, Australia 2018

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2016–17 there were 452 farms in the South East region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 19 per cent of all farm businesses in Tasmania.

Number of farms, by industry classification, South East region, 2016–17
Industry classificationSouth East regionTasmania
Number of farms% of RegionNumber of farmsContribution of region to state total %
Sheep Farming (Specialised)        156 34.6          295 53.0
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)           62 13.6          693 8.9
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming           46 10.2          155 29.7
Stone Fruit Growing           42 9.4            50 84.6
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming           41 9.0          127 32.0
Apple and Pear Growing           25 5.5            37 67.8
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)           17 3.8          311 5.6
Grape Growing           10 2.2            46 21.6
Nursery Production (Outdoors)             9 1.9            23 37.0
Berry Fruit Growing             8 1.7            43 18.0
Other           36 8.1          645 5.6
Total agriculture       452 100     2,426 18.6

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. Sheep farms (156 farms) were the most common, accounting for 35 per cent of all farms in the South East region, and 53 per cent of all sheep 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 37 per cent of farms in the South East region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 6 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2016–17. In comparison, 15 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 62 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the South East region in 2016–17.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, South East region, 2016–17
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Greater Adelaide region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Note: Only farms with an EVAO of $50,000 or more in 2016–17 are included in these data. The scope of ABS Rural Environment and Agricultural Collections changed in 2015–16 to include only agricultural businesses with an EVAO of $40,000 or greater.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Farm financial performance

Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in Tasmania.

Fisheries sector

The South East region of Tasmania is predominantly an aquaculture production area, but also a wild–catch production area for shellfish, including abalone and scallop, and finfish. Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout aquaculture are produced in this region, especially around the Houn River, D’Entrecasteaux Channel area, as well as wild-caught finfish and shellfish.

The South East region has the highest participation in recreational fishing in Tasmania, with 27 per cent of the resident population aged five years or older fishing at least once in the 12 months prior to October 2012 (Lyle et al. 2014). The region includes the most popular trout angling locations in Tasmania on the Central Plateau where an estimated two-thirds of trout are caught. Arthurs Lake and the Great Lake are particularly important recreational trout fisheries for the region. The region is also popular with inshore boat fishers, particularly in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel where large numbers of flathead and scallops are harvested, and on the central east coast where finfish are the main target species. The central east coast is a popular fishing location for visitors from other regions of 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.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the South East region was 71,800 hectares, comprised of 52,300 hectares of hardwood plantations, 18,200 hectares of softwood plantations and 1,300 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted are blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and shining gum (E.nitens), and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2011 there were 1.2 million hectares of native forests in the South East region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt tall open (378,600 hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (372,300 hectares) and Rainforest (154,800 hectares) forest types. The majority of native forests were in nature conservation reserves (458,500 hectares), approximately 403,800 hectares were privately managed and 302,400 hectares were in multiple-use public forests available for timber production. Major timber processing industries are located in Geeveston and Southwood.

In 2015–16, the total plantation area in Tasmania was 309,800 hectares, comprised of 233,900 hectares of hardwood plantations and 75,900 hectares of softwood plantations.

In 2015–16, the volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in Tasmania was 2.0 million cubic metres valued at $149 million. The volume of native hardwood logs harvested was 1.1 million cubic metres valued at $78 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 1.1 million cubic metres valued at $66 million.

The sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Tasmania was estimated at $389 million in 2015–16. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2015–16.

In 2016, the Tasmanian forestry sector employed 2,564 workers (1.2 per cent of the total employed workforce in Tasmania) compared with 3,529 (1.6 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes the following categories: forestry, logging, support services, timber wholesaling; and wood, pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing.

Areas of native forest, by tenure, South East region
Shows areas of native forest, by tenure, in the South East region of Tasmania. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Source: ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013


ABS 2018, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 10 January 2019.

Lyle, JM, Stark, KE & Tracey, SR 2014, 2012–13 Survey of Recreational Fishing in Tasmania, University of Tasmania, Hobart, DOI:10.13140/2.1.1289.1204.​​​​​​​​​​​​

Last reviewed:
31 Jan 2019