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 Warrnambool and South West region and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The Warrnambool and South West region of Victoria is located in the south–west corner of the state, and adjoins the South Australian border. The region comprises the six local government areas of Colac–Otway, Corangamite, Glenelg, Moyne, Southern Grampians and Warrnambool, part of Surf Coast, and the major regional centres of Colac, Hamilton and Warrnambool. The region covers a total area of around 26,380 square kilometres or 11.6 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 124,700 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in the Warrnambool and South West region occupies 18,100 square kilometres, or 69 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 4,000 square kilometres, or 15 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 14,700 square kilometres or 56 per cent of the Warrnambool and South West region (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 65,800 people were employed in the Warrnambool and South West region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in Victoria and 19 per cent of all people employed in the Victorian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 17,800 people, representing 27 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 8,700 people, followed by manufacturing with 6,000 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were retail trade; accommodation and food services; and education and training.
Value of agricultural production
In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Warrnambool and South West region was $2.6 billion, which was 18 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15 billion).
The most important commodities in the Warrnambool and South West region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($877 million), followed by cattle and calves ($632 million) and sheep and lambs ($528 million). These commodities together contributed 78 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 3,845 farms in the Warrnambool and South West region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 18 per cent of all farm businesses in Victoria.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Warrnambool and South West region, 2015–16
|Industry classification||Warrnambool and South West region||Victoria|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region|
to state total
|Dairy Cattle Farming || 1,216 ||31.6 || 3,928 ||31.0 |
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised) || 1,062 ||27.6 || 5,642 ||18.8 |
|Sheep Farming (Specialised) || 761 ||19.8 || 2,795 ||27.2 |
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming || 496 ||12.9 || 1,283 ||38.7 |
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming || 147 ||3.8 || 1,920 ||7.7 |
|Other Grain Growing || 52 ||1.4 || 2,320 ||2.3 |
|Horse Farming || 37 ||1.0 || 604 ||6.2 |
|Other || 41 ||1.1 || 3,104 ||1.3 |
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. Dairy cattle farms (1,216 farms) were the most common, accounting for 32 per cent of all farms in the Warrnambool and South West region, and 31 per cent of all dairy farms in Victoria.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 17 per cent of farms in the Warrnambool and South West region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 3 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2016–17. In comparison, 45 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500,000 and accounted for an estimated 81 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Warrnambool and South West region in 2016–17.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in
The Warrnambool and South West region contains a range of seafood sectors, with the main production species caught in the area being rock lobster and abalone. A wide variety of finfish and eels are also harvested in the region and land based abalone farms are established in the south west part of the region. The seafood processing industry servicing the area is primarily located at Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland.
Recreational fishing is popular in this region. In the 2000 National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, the participation rate varied between 15 per cent and 22 per cent depending on the locality, much higher than the state average of 12.7 per cent (Henry & Lyle 2003). Residents fish mainly in coastal waters of western Victoria from Apollo Bay to the south Australian border. The Hopkins River and Glenelg River are also popular with many fishers. King George whiting, snapper, Australian salmon, black bream and mullet are the most common marine species targeted by fishers. Freshwater fishing is also popular for residents where redfin, trout, eels and yabbies are harvested. Overall, fishing from the shore is the most popular way that residents access the fishery, but boat fishing is significant, accounting for 42 per cent of the recreational and indigenous fishing effort in the region.
During the last ten years a seasonal fishery for southern bluefin tuna (SBT) has developed in the continental shelf waters of this region (Green et al. 2012). Private trailer boats and charter boats access this fishery during autumn and winter from the ports of Apollo Bay, Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland. Local residents make up about 45 per cent of the SBT fishers and almost all the others live in the Greater Melbourne and Geelong regions.
In 2015–16 the gross value of Victoria's fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild–catch) was $86 million, a decrease of 3 per cent ($2.4 million) from 2014–15. Victoria contributed 3 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 68 per cent ($57.8 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 32 per cent ($27.6 million).
Victoria's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by two main products—abalone and Southern rock lobster—which account for 34 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production in 2015–16. Over the last decade the real value of Victoria's wild-caught fisheries products has reduced by 42 per cent to $57.8 million in 2015–16.
The product for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade is wild—caught abalone, falling by 70 per cent to $19.7 million in 2015–16. This is largely attributable to the Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis disease which has significantly reduced abalone production in the Victorian wild–catch sector in recent years. 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.
Commonwealth fisheries active in the waters off Victoria include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) and the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors (supplies gummy shark or 'flake' to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery, Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) and the Southern Squid Jig Fishery also operate in the waters off Victoria.
In 2015–16 the volume of Victoria's aquaculture production was 2,670 tonnes. Salmonids, blue mussels and abalone accounted for 50 per cent, 29 per cent and 12 per cent respectively of this volume and 40 per cent, 12 per cent and 40 per cent respectively of the total value of Victorian aquaculture production in 2015–16.
In 2015–16, fisheries products exported from Victoria were valued at $193 million. This value includes State and Commonwealth fisheries products exported from the ports of Victoria, which may be sourced from Victorian waters or other parts of the country. The main export products include abalone and Southern rock lobster. Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore are the major destinations for Victorian fisheries exports, accounting for 53 per cent, 14 per cent and 7 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (6 per cent) and China (4 per cent).
Recreational fishing is popular in Victoria. In the national survey of recreational fishers undertaken in the early 2000s it was found that Victoria had approximately 550,000 recreational fishers that fished in the 12 months to May 2000, an estimated 12.7 per cent of Victoria's population (Henry & Lyle 2003). This includes gamefishing for species such as southern bluefin tuna (Green et al 2012). Recreational fishing also includes diving for Southern rock lobster, abalone, and scallops and hook and line fishing for a range of finfish species, such as snapper, King George whiting, black bream and flathead. Freshwater anglers target rainbow and brown trout, as well as native freshwater fish.
In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Warrnambool and South West region was 186,900 hectares, comprised of 119,700 hectares of hardwood plantations and 67,200 hectares of softwood plantations . The main hardwood species planted is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were 483,500 hectares of native forests in the Warrnambool and South West region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium open (179,100 hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (167,000 hectares) and Eucalypt tall open (32,400 hectares) forest types. The majority of native forests were in nature conservation reserves (273,400 hectares), 106,600 hectares were privately owned and 89,700 hectares were in multiple-use public forests available for timber production. Major timber processing industries are located in Portland, Milltown and Colac.
In 2015–16, the total plantation area in Victoria was 423,000 hectares, comprised of 199,000 hectares of hardwood plantations, 223,300 hectares of softwood plantations and 800 hectares of other plantations.
In 2015–16, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Victoria was 1.3 million cubic metres valued at $112 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 2.8 million cubic metres valued at $194 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 4 million cubic metres valued at $ 293 million.
The sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Victoria was estimated at $3.4 billion in 2015–16. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2015−16.
In 2016, the Victorian forestry sector employed 16,713 workers (0.6 per cent of the total employed workforce in Victoria) compared with 21,825 (0.9 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.
Area of native forest, by tenure, Warrnambool and South West regionSource:
Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013
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.
Green, C, Brown, P, Giri K, Bell, J & Conron, S 2012, Quantifying the recreational catch of southern bluefin tuna off the Victorian coast, Recreational Fishing Grants Program research report R09/10/03, Department of Primary Industries, Melbourne, Victoria.
Henry, GW & Lyle JM (eds) 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey. Final report to the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, NSW Fisheries final report series, no. 48, FRDC project no. 99/158, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.