About my region – Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 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 Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region of New South Wales is located in the urbanised coastal area around the city of Newcastle, north of Sydney. The region includes the local government areas of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, and small parts of the Port Stephens and Maitland local government areas to the north. The region covers a total area of around 860 square kilometres or less than 1 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 372,300 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region occupies 290 square kilometres, or 34 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 220 square kilometres, or 26 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation uses, which occupies 200 square kilometres or 24 per cent of the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 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 193,900 people were employed in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region. The region accounts for 5 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 37,400 people, followed by construction with 21,000 people, and retail trade with 20,500 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were education and training; professional, scientific and technical services; and accommodation and food services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 400 people, representing less than 1 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region, May 2020
Shows the number of people employed in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 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 Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region was $26 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 Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region based on the gross value of agricultural production were eggs ($12 million), followed by poultry ($11 million) and nurseries ($2 million). These commodities together contributed 94 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Value of agricultural production, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region, 2018–19
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 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 15 farms in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 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, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region, 2017–18
Industry classification Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region New South Wales
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Floriculture Production (Under Cover)           5 31.8 53 9.3
Other             10 68.2 23,261 0.0
Total agriculture          15 100 23,314 0.1

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. Floriculture production (under cover) (5 farms) were the most common, accounting for 32 per cent of all farms in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region, and 9 per cent of all floriculture production (under cover) 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 29 per cent of farms in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region had an EVAO from $150,000 to $350,000. These farms accounted for only 3 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 42 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 82 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 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

Major ports for commercial fishing in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region include Newcastle, Swansea and Shoal Bay. Species caught by commercial fishers in the area include Prawns, Eastern Rock Lobster, Bugs, a range of Finfish and Blue Swimmer Crabs (Commercial Fishermen’s Co-Operative 2020).

Recreational fishing in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region occurs in coastal, estuarine and fresh waters. An assessment of recreational fishing in Lake Macquarie following its establishment as a ‘Recreational Fishing Haven’ in 2003–04 found that Trumpeter Whiting, Luderick, Blue Swimmer Crab, Yellowfin Bream, Dusky Flathead, Tailors, Squids and Sand Whiting were the most commonly caught species (Steffe et al 2005). Common species caught by recreational fishers in the broader Hunter region also include Prawns, Breams and Sand Flathead (West et al 2015).

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% ($10.2 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 Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region.

In 2016 there were about 47,100 hectares of native forests in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Open (25,900 hectares), Other native forest (7,800 hectares) and Eucalypt Tall Open (7,300 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (27,300 hectares), while 9,800 hectares were in conservation reserves and 5,100 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 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.

Commercial Fishermen’s Co-Operative 2020, Commercial Fishermen’s Co-Operative Home, accessed: 9 April 2020.

Steffe, AS, Murphy, JJ, Chapman, DJ & Gray, CC 2005, An assessment of changes in the daytime recreational fishery of Lake Macquarie following the establishment of a ‘Recreational Fishing Haven’, no. 79, NSW Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales.

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: 22 July 2020
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