About my region — Greater Sydney 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 Greater Sydney region and the recent financial performance of the New South Wales broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Greater Sydney region comprises 36 local government areas. It includes the major centres of Sydney, Richmond, Katoomba, Camden and the central coast. The region covers a total area of around 12,300 square kilometres or 2 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 5.1 million people (ABS 2018a).

Agricultural land in the Greater Sydney region occupies 2,300 square kilometres, or 18 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 7,100 square kilometres, or 57 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is nature conservation, which occupies 6,200 square kilometres or 50 per cent of the Greater Sydney region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Greater Sydney region
Shows a map of broad land use in the New South Wales - Greater Sydney 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 2.8 million people were employed in the Greater Sydney region. The region accounts for 68 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 13 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 355,700 people, followed by professional, scientific and technical services with 335,200 people, and retail trade with 267,200 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction; education and training; and financial and insurance services. The agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector employed 10,500 people, representing less than 1 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Greater Sydney region, May 2020
Shows the number of people employed in the Greater Sydney 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 Greater Sydney region was $768 million, which was 7 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales of $11.7 billion.

The Greater Sydney region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were poultry ($222 million), followed by nurseries ($116 million), and mushrooms ($85 million). These commodities together contributed 55 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Value of agricultural production, Greater Sydney region, 2018–19
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Greater Sydney 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 1,049 farms in the Greater Sydney region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 4  per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Greater Sydney region, 2017–18
Industry classification Greater Sydney region New South Wales
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)  328 31.3  582 56.3
Poultry Farming (Meat)  116 11.1  212 54.6
Horse Farming  89 8.4  540 16.4
Turf Growing  68 6.5  96 71.1
Vegetable Growing (Under Cover)  67 6.3  87 76.2
Nursery Production (Under Cover)  54 5.1  96 55.5
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)  51 4.8  6,250 0.8
Floriculture Production (Outdoors)  49 4.7  105 46.6
Floriculture Production (Under Cover)  48 4.6  53 90.7
Nursery Production (Outdoors)  28 2.7  87 32.3
Poultry Farming (Eggs)  28 2.7  107 26.1
Citrus Fruit Growing  23 2.2  235 9.6
Dairy Cattle Farming  21 2.0  691 3.0
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing  15 1.4  538 2.8
Other

 

 66 6.3  13,633 0.5
Total agriculture

 

 1,049

 

100

 

 23,314

 

4

 

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. Vegetable growing (outdoors) farms (328 farms) were the most common, accounting for 31 per cent of all farms in the Greater Sydney region, and 56 per cent of all outdoor vegetable growing 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 Greater Sydney region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 4 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 19 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 68 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Greater Sydney region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Greater Sydney region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Greater Sydney 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 Greater Sydney region coastline extends from Wedding Cake Rock, just south of Port Hacking, up to the southern extremity of Lake Macquarie. Sydney is a key commercial fishing port in the region where over 780 tonnes of Commonwealth catch was landed in 2018–19. The majority of Sydney’s Commonwealth catch (70%; 551 tonnes) was sourced in the Commonwealth Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, followed by the Commonwealth Trawl Sector. Both these fisheries are major sources of domestic fresh fish to the Sydney Fish Markets. In 2018–19, 371 tonnes of Yellowfin Tuna, 36 tonnes of Swordfish and 32 tonnes of Albacore was landed in Sydney. Other species commonly landed in Sydney include Eastern School Whiting, Blue-eye Trevallas, Southern Bluefin Tuna and Bigeye Tuna.

The state fisheries active in the Greater Sydney region include the Ocean Prawn Trawl, the Estuary Prawn Trawl and the Ocean Trap and Line. The Ocean Prawn Trawl Fishery operates along the entire coast of New South Wales harvesting School and Eastern King Prawns and School Whitings. The Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery harvests school and eastern King Prawns in the Hawkesbury River. The Ocean Trap and Line targets a number of Finfish species, including: Breams, Yellowtail Kingfish, Leatherjackets, Bonitos, and Silver Trevallies. Aquaculture species production in the region includes Oysters, Barramundi, and ornamental fish species.

A large number of recreational fishers are active in the Greater Sydney region, with the vast majority (91%) being local residents (West et al 2015). Species commonly targeted include Breams, Sand Flathead, Dusky Flathead and Mulloway. Hawkesbury River and Pork Hacking estuaries are popular fishing areas where the most commonly harvested taxa are Yellowfin Bream, Dusky Flathead, Yellowtail, Sand Whiting, Sand Mullet, Tailors, Blue Swimmer Crab, Silver Trevally, Luderick and Yellowfin Leatherjacket (Steffe & Murphy 2011).

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 the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Greater Sydney region was about 900 hectares, comprised of 860 hectares of hardwood plantations and less than 100 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 879,600 hectares of native forests in the Greater Sydney region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Woodland (377,600 hectares), Eucalypt Medium Open (310,700 hectares) and Eucalypt Tall Open (64,800 hectares). The majority of the native forests were in conservation reserves (601,100 hectares), while 186,000 hectares were privately managed and 67,800 hectares were on Crown land. There were 23,800 hectares on multiple use native forest available for wood 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 2018a, 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.

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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