About my region – Greater Darwin Northern Territory

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 th​e agriculture and fisheries sectors in the Greater Darwin region and the recent financial performance of the Northern Territory beef industry.

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Regional overview

The Greater Darwin region of the Northern Territory comprises the three local government areas of Darwin, Litchfield, and Palmerston and the city of Darwin (refer to land use map below). The region covers a total area of around 3,100 square kilometres, or less than 1 per cent of the Northern Territory's total area, and is home to approximately 148,900 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Greater Darwin region occupies 550 square kilometres, or 18 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 2,150 square kilometres, or 69 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation, which occupies 410 square kilometres or 13 per cent of the Greater Darwin region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Greater Darwin region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Greater Darwin 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 82,800 people were employed in the Greater Darwin region. The Greater Darwin region accounts for 63 per cent of total employment in Northern Territory and 43 per cent of all people employed in the Northern Territory agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Public administration and safety was the largest employment sector with 11,800 people, followed by health care and social assistance with 11,100 people, and retail trade with 7,900 people. Other important employment sectors in the territory were education and training; construction; and accommodation and food services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 1,000 people, representing 1 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Greater Darwin region, November 2019
Shows the number of people employed in the Greater Darwin 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 Darwin region was $83 million, which was 13 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Northern Territory ($651 million).

The Darwin region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the Darwin region based on the gross value of agricultural production were mangoes ($41 million), followed by melons ($3 million) and cattle and calves ($3million). These commodities together contributed 54 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Value of agricultural production, Greater Darwin region, 2017–18
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the region in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous three 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 85 farms in the Darwin region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 28 per cent of all farm businesses in Northern Territory.

Number of farms, by industry classification, 2017–18
Industry classification Greater Darwin region Northern Territory
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing  48 56.2  73 65.0
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)  19 22.1  43 42.9
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)  4 4.9  152 2.7
Other           14 16.9            38 37.5
Total agriculture           85 100          307 27.5

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. Other fruit and tree nut farms (48 farms) were the most common, accounting for 56 per cent of all farms in the Greater Darwin region, and 65 per cent of all other fruit and tree nut farms in the Northern Territory.

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 Greater Darwin region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 7 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 14 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 58 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Greater Darwin region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Greater Darwin region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Greater Darwin 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 beef farms in Northern Territory.

Fisheries sector

In 2015–16 the gross value of Northern Territory managed fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild-catch) was $59.4 million, an increase of 8 per cent ($4.2 million) from 2014–15. The Northern Territory contributed 2 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 59 per cent ($35 million) of the territory's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 41 per cent ($24.5 million).

The Northern Territory's wild-catch fisheries sector provides a range of fisheries products. The highest contribution is from mackerel which account for 15 per cent of the total value of wild-catch fisheries with a value of $5.3 million. Other important wild-catch fisheries products are crabs (primarily mud crabs), which account for 9 per cent of the total value of wild-catch fisheries with a value of $3 million, gold band snapper (9 per cent; $3.2 million) and barramundi (7 per cent; $2.6 million). In 2015–16 the value of the Northern Territory's aquaculture production increased by 12 per cent from $31 million in 2014–15 to $35 million in 2015–16.

The Commonwealth managed Northern Prawn Fishery was the most valuable fishery in the Northern Territory, with a gross value of production in 2015–16 of $124 million, across the entire fishery (some of which is landed in Queensland). In 2015–16, the gross value of production for the Commonwealth Northern Prawn Fishery increased by 16 per cent because of a 17 per cent increase in price. Darwin is a major landing site for this fishery.

In 2015–16, the Northern Territory's seafood product exports were valued at around $0.16 million by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This amount will not include Northern Territory production that is exported from ports elsewhere in Australia. The main export products include live and fresh, chilled or frozen fish, and crabs, with Japan and China being the main export markets. The main non-edible fisheries product produced for the export market in the Northern Territory was pearls.

Recreational fishing is popular in the Northern Territory with an estimated 31,790 non-indigenous Northern Territory residents (5 years and over) participating in the activity in the 12 months prior to April 2009 (Henry, GW & Lyle JM 2003). In its survey of recreational fishers in Northern Territory found that most fishing effort is directed to Darwin Harbour (27 per cent), Darwin Surrounds and Bynoe/Finniss Area (28 per cent) and the Mary/Alligator Rivers (17 per cent). Most (80 per cent) fishing effort occurred in marine waters, including estuaries, and inshore and offshore waters.

It is estimated that Northern Territory residents and visitors spend nearly $51 million annually on recreational fishing, with the purchase of vessels and vehicles and their associated running costs making up the bulk of the expenditure (West et al 2012). According to the most recent survey of recreational fishing activity in the Northern Territory (West et al 2012), the main target fish species are barramundi, followed by golden snapper, small bait fish, catfish, saddletail and crimson snapper, and mullet. Mud crabs dominate the crustacean catch, followed by cherabin, the giant freshwater prawn.

The Northern Territory also has a significant indigenous customary fish sector. The 2000–01 National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey (NRIFS) aimed to better understand the level of fishing undertaken by the Indigenous fishing sector (Henry & Lyle 2003). The survey collected fisheries catch statistics from Indigenous people aged five years and older, living in coastal communities across the north of Australia, from Broome in Western Australia to Cairns in Queensland (excluding those living in the Torres Strait). The survey showed that an estimated 37,000 Indigenous people living in the north of Australia fished at least once during the survey year. This was equivalent to 92 per cent of the Indigenous population in the region.

The survey indicated that Indigenous fishers in northern Australia harvested approximately 900,000 finfish, 1 million molluscs, 660,000 prawns and yabbies, 180,000 crabs and rock lobsters and smaller numbers of other species during 2000–01. The most prominent finfish species groups were mullet, catfish, tropical snapper, bream and barramundi. The most prominent non–finfish species groups were mussels, freshwater prawn, mud crabs, prawns and oysters.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Darwin region was comprised of 800 hectares of hardwood plantations. The main hardwood plantation species in Northern Territory are Mangium (Acacia mangium) and Rainbow Gum (Eucalyptus deglupta).  The main softwood plantation species in Northern Territory is Caribbean Pine (Pinus caribaea).

In 2016 there were 206,200 hectares of native forests in the Darwin region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Open (69,400 hectares), Eucalypt Medium Woodland (66,600 hectares) and Other native forest (28,600 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (72,000 hectares), while 66,700 hectares were leasehold land and 45,800 hectares were on Crown land.

Northern Territory state data

In 2017–18, the total plantation area in the Northern Territory was 47,400 hectares, comprised of 45,500 hectares of hardwood plantations and 1,900 hectares of softwood plantations.

The Northern Territory has an export woodchip port on the Tiwi islands and a number of portable sawmills in isolated regions supplying the domestic market.

In 2016, there were 23.7 million hectares of native forests in the Northern Territory, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Woodland (9.1 million hectares), Eucalypt Medium Open (5.7 million hectares) and Eucalypt Low Woodland (4.2 million hectares).

There is no forest production data available for the Northern Territory.

In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in the Northern Territory was $22 million.  Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2017–18.

In 2016 the Northern Territory forestry sector employed 280 workers (0.27 per cent) of the total employed workforce in Northern Territory compared with 240 (0.25 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.

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.

West, LD, Lyle, JM, Matthews, SR, Stark, KE & Steffe, AS 2012, Survey of Recreational Fishing in the Northern Territory, 2009–10, Fishery report no. 109, Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, December, Darwin.​​​​​​

Last reviewed: 23 January 2020
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