About my region – Coffs Harbour - Grafton New South Wales

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 Coffs Harbour - Grafton region and the recent financial performance of the New South Wales broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Coffs Harbour - Grafton region of New South Wales is located on the northern coast of the state, extending inland from the coast to the Great Dividing Range. The region includes the towns of Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Yamba, and Dorrigo and comprises the three local government areas of Bellingen, Clarence Valley, and Coffs Harbour. It also includes small parts of Nambucca and Richmond Valley local government areas. The region covers a total area of around 13,200 square kilometres or 2 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 140,100 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region occupies 6,100 square kilometres, or 46 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 3,900 square kilometres, or 30 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation, which occupies 3,500 square kilometres or 26 per cent of the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton 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 - Update December 2018

Employment

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the November 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 59,400 people were employed in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region. The region accounts for 1 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 3 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 10,800 people, followed by construction with 7,900 people, and retail trade with 7,800 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were accommodation and food services; education and training; and professional, scientific and technical services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 2,500 people, representing 4 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Coffs Harbour - Grafton region, November 2019
Shows the number of people employed in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton 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 2019

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region was $278 million, which was 2 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($13 billion).

The Coffs Harbour - Grafton region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were cattle and calves ($80 million), followed by sugarcane ($26 million) and nurseries ($16 million). These commodities together contributed 44 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. Additionally, in 2017–18 the Coffs Harbour – Grafton region accounted for 58 per cent ($2 million) of the total value of the state's banana production.

Value of agricultural production, Coffs Harbour - Grafton region, 2017–18
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous two 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 2019

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2017–18 there were 744 farms in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 3 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Coffs Harbour - Grafton region, 2017–18
Industry classification Coffs Harbour - Grafton region New South Wales
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised) 335 45.0 6,250 5.4
Sugar Cane Growing 118 15.9 362 32.7
Berry Fruit Growing 101 13.6 141 72.1
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing 43 5.8 538 8.0
Dairy Cattle Farming 35 4.7 691 5.1
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors) 23 3.1 582 3.9
Nursery Production (Outdoors) 21 2.8 87 23.8
Horse Farming 19 2.6 540 3.6
Nursery Production (Under Cover) 10 1.4 105 9.9
Floriculture Production (Outdoors) 10 1.4 105 9.9
Other 27 3.6    13,922 0.2
Total agriculture 744 100 23,314 3.2

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 2019

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (335 farms) were the most common, accounting for 45 per cent of all farms in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region, and 5 per cent of all beef cattle 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. Around 33 per cent of farms in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 8 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 5 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 30 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Coffs Harbour - Grafton region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Note: Only farms with an EVAO of $50,000 or more in 2017–18 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 2019

Farm financial performance

Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in New South Wales.

Fisheries sector

The Coffs Harbour - Grafton region is a key area for commercial fishing in New South Wales. The region also contains the Clarence River estuary, and is home to the Clarence River Fisherman's Cooperative. Fishers in the area target a range of prawn species, including school and king prawns, ocean bugs and a range of finfish including snapper, bream, flathead, shark, emperor, salmon, and cod. A key Commonwealth fishery that operates in the region is the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery that targes albacore tuna, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna, broadbill swordfish, and striped marlin. The New South Wales state fisheries operating in the region include the Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery and the Ocean Prawn Trawl Fishery, targeting school prawns, eastern king prawns, and school whiting and the Ocean Trap and Line Fishery targeting finfish. The aquaculture in the region includes oysters and prawns.

The region is also popular for recreational fishing, with target species including: bream, sand whiting, dusky flathead, luderick, tarwhine, and mud crabs, and large pelagic species such as tuna and marlin. Gamefishing is also a popular recreational pursuit in the region, targeting tuna, marlin, and billfish.

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).

Forestry sector

In 2014–15 the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region was about 30,100 hectares, comprised of 27,740 hectares of hardwood plantations and 2,400 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood plantation species in New South Wales are Dunns white gum (Eucalyptus dunnii), blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) and shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens). The main softwood plantation species in New South Wales are radiata pine (Pinus radiata) and other pine species (various).

In 2016 there were about 961,400 hectares of native forests in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Tall Open (447,000 hectares), Eucalypt Medium Open (304,900 hectares) and Rainforest (94,400 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (413,600 hectares), while 278,600 hectares were in conservation reserves and 250,800 hectares were on multiple use public forest available for timber production.

New South Wales state data

In 2017–18, the total plantation area in New South Wales was 393,200 hectares, comprised of 87,100 hectares of hardwood plantations and 306,000 hectares of softwood plantations.

In 2016, New South Wales had 85 sawmills (including 17 softwood sawmills), 2 post and pole processors, 7 wood based panel processors and 5 paper and paperboard processors.

In 2016, there were 19.9 million hectares of native forests in New South Wales, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Woodland (6.0 million hectares), Eucalypt Medium Open (4.7 million hectares) and Eucalypt Tall Open (2.3 million hectares).

In 2017–18, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in New South Wales was 977,000 cubic metres, valued at $128.5 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in New South Wales was 254,000 cubic metres, valued at $21.9 million. The volume of plantation softwood logs harvested in New South Wales was 5.0 million cubic metres, valued at $393.5 million.

In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in New South Wales was $4.7 billion and for paper and paper products was $4.0 billion.

In 2016, the New South Wales forestry sector employed 16,396 workers (0.52 per cent of the total employed workforce in New South Wales) compared with 21,082 (0.62 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes the following categories: forestry and logging, forestry support services, wood product manufacturing and pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing.

References

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, November 2019, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 January 2020.

ABS 2019b Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2017-18, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 May 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.

Last reviewed: 20 January 2020
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