About my region – Illawarra 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 and fisheries sectors in the Illawarra region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Illawarra region of New South Wales includes the city of Wollongong and the hinterland area along the coast and west to the southern highlands region. The region comprises the three local government areas of Kiama, Shellharbour and Wollongong, and parts of the local government areas of Campbelltown, Sutherland Shire and Wollondilly to the north, and Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee to the south west. The region covers a total area of around 1,500 square kilometres or less than 1 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 306,600 people (ABS 2018a).

Agricultural land in the Illawarra region occupies 480 square kilometres, or 31 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 900 square kilometres, or 57 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is minimal use, which occupies 500 square kilometres or 34 per cent of the Illawarra region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Illawarra region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Illawarra 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 May 2020 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 145,700 people were employed in the Illawarra region. The Illawarra region accounts for 4 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and less than 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 22,300 people, followed by education and training with 13,700 people, and retail trade with 13,500 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were public administration and safety; construction; and accommodation and food services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 200 people, representing less than 1 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Illawarra region, May 2020
Shows the number of people employed in the Illawarra 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 2020

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the Illawarra region was $12 million, which was less than 1 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($11.7 billion).

The most important commodities in the Illawarra region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($6 million), followed by mushrooms ($3 million) and cattle and calves ($2 million). These commodities together contributed 91 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Value of agricultural production, Illawarra region, 2018–19
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Illawarra 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 2020

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2017–18 there were less than 10 farms in the Illawarra 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, Illawarra region, 2017–18
Industry classification Illawarra New South Wales
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Dairy Cattle Farming             6 61.2          691 0.8
Other 3 38.8 22,622 0
Total agriculture             9 100    23,314 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 2019

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 39 per cent of farms in the Illawarra region had an EVAO between $150,000 and $350,000. These farms accounted for 15 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 61 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO between $500,000 and $1 million and accounted for an estimated 85 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Illawarra region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Illawarra region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Illawarra 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 coastline of the Illawarra region extends north from Gerringong to the Royal National Park. A Large amount of the commercial and recreational fishing in this region occurs in Lake Illawarra, which was ranked the 12th highest commercial estuarine Finfish producer in New South Wales between 1997–98 and 2001–02 (Gray 2006). The main species caught in Lake Illawarra are Finfish including Sea Mullet, Luderick, Dusky Flathead, Silver Biddy and Breams. Prawns, Blue Swimmer Crabs and Shellfish are also harvested from the area (Gray 2006).

The Illawarra area accounts for 47% of the recreational fishing effort in the mid-south coast, with key recreational species being Breams, Prawns, Flathead, Luderick, Sand Whiting, Australian Salmon and Yellowtail Kingfish (West et al 2015). Gamefishing is also a popular recreational pursuit in the region, targeting larger Finfish species such as Tunas, Marlin and Billfish.

New South Wales state data

In 2017–18 the gross value product (GVP) of New South Wales fisheries production was $170.2 million, increasing by 11% ($16.3 million) from 2016–17. New South Wales contributed 5% of the total gross value of Australian fisheries production in 2017–18. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 58.5% ($99.5 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 41.5% ($70.7 million).

New South Wales wild-catch fishery production increased by 11% ($10. million) to $99.5 million in 2017–18. Finfish species contributed 46% of the total New South Wales wild-catch production, valued at $45.6 million, while Crustaceans contributed 44% to the total production. The most valuable Finfish species landed were Sea Mullet ($10.2 million), Eastern School Whiting ($5 million) and Black and Yellowfin Bream ($3.2 million). Prawns contributed 20% of the total value of wild-catch fisheries with a value of $19.6 million, while Eastern Rock Lobster contributed $11.6 million and Crabs $8.4 million. Abalone GVP increased by 50% to $5.5 million from 2016–17, despite an 11% decline in catch volume. The increase in wild-catch Abalone GVP was driven by a unit price increase due to growing demand from China.

In 2017–18 the value of New South Wales aquaculture production increased by 9% ($6.1 million) to $70.7 million. Oysters production (largely Sydney Rock Oysters) made the greatest contribution to New South Wales aquaculture production, increasing by 14% to $51.8 million – the highest value since 2003–04. Prawns ($5.8 million) and Finfish aquaculture species, including Silver Perch ($2.8 million), Trouts ($2.7 million) and Barramundi ($0.7 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 Tunas) and the Commonwealth trawl sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark fishery. The Southern Squid Jig Fishery also operates in the waters of New South Wales.

In 2018–19, New South Wales fisheries product exports were valued at $28.8 million. The main export products include live and fresh, chilled or frozen Finfish, Tropical Rock Lobsters, and Abalone. Japan and China are the major destinations for New South Wales fisheries exports, accounting for 44% and 18% of the total value of exports in 2018–19, respectively. Other major export destinations include United States of America (14%) and Vietnam (8%).

The New South Wales coastline is an important recreational fishing area, with a multitude of inlets and estuaries from which to fish. There are also a range of game fishing tournaments throughout the year, including in the Bermagui and Port Stephens areas, targeting Tunas and Marlin species. New South Wales also contains several 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, Blue Swimmer Crab, Squids, and Southern Calamari (Steffe & Murphy 2011).

Note: Where applicable the Australian Fish Names Standard AS SSA 5300-2019 is now used in this section. In this section standard fish names for groups of species or species families are not capitalised and employ the use of initial capital letters.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15 there were less than 100 hectares of plantation area in the Illawarra region.

In 2016 there were about 109,100 hectares of native forests in the Illawarra region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Woodland (73,600 hectares), Rainforest (17,300 hectares) and Eucalypt Medium Open (5,200 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (72,800 hectares), while 34,100 hectares were in conservation reserves and 2,000 hectares were on Crown land. There are less than 100 hectares of multiple use native forest in this region.

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 2020a, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, May 2020, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 30 June 2020.

ABS 2020b, Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2018-19, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 29 May 2020.

Gray, C 2006, ‘An overview of commercial fishing in Lake Illawarra: trends in reported catch and effort, bycatch and discarding’, Wetlands Australia, vol. 21, no 2, pg. 168-179, DOI: 10.31646/wa.269.

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.

West et al. 2015, Survey of recreational fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013/14 (PDF 3.8 MB), NSW Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales.

Last reviewed: 23 July 2020
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