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 the agriculture and fisheries sectors in the Greater Darwin region and the recent financial performance of the Northern Territory beef industry.
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).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the May 2020 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 82,100 people were employed in the Greater Darwin region. The Greater Darwin region accounts for 63 per cent of total employment in Northern Territory and 30 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 12,800 people, followed by health care and social assistance with 11,500 people, and retail trade with 7,600 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were education and training; construction; and accommodation and food services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 700 people, representing 1 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the Darwin region was $85 million, which was 11 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Northern Territory ($759 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 ($39 million), followed by cattle and calves ($2 million) and melons ($2 million). These commodities together contributed 50 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.
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.
|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|
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.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for beef farms in Northern Territory.
In 2017–18 the gross value of Northern Territory managed fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild-catch) was $73.4 million, a decrease of 6% ($4.9 million) from 2016–17. The Northern Territory contributed 2% of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2017–18. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 65% ($47.8 million) of the territory's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 35% ($25.6 million).
In 2017–18, the value of the Northern Territory's wild-catch production increased by 9% from $44 million in 2016–17 to $47.8 million. This increase was a result of an increase in production volume of Crabs, which accounted for 20.5% of the total value of wild-catch fisheries with a value of $9.8 million. Other important wild-catch fisheries products are Mackerel (13%; $6.2 million), Goldband Snapper (11%; $5.3 million), Barramundi (7.5%; $3.6 million) and Black Jewfish (6%; $2.8 million).
The value of aquaculture production in the Northern Territory decreased by 26% in 2017–18 to $25.6 million. Important production species include Barramundi and Pearl Oysters. In 2017–18 the value of aquaculture Barramundi was $22.8 million with 2,342 tonnes produced – up from 699 tonnes in 2009–10. This increase reflects the expansion of Barramundi aquaculture since the late 1990’s due to advances in technology and economies of scale. Production values of other aquaculture species and products (for example Pearls from Pearl Oyster aquaculture) generally cannot be provided because of confidentiality requirements. Pearls from Pearl Oyster aquaculture contribute significantly to the value of aquaculture production in the Northern Territory.
In 2018–19, the Northern Territory's seafood product exports were valued at around $22 million by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This amount does not include Northern Territory production that is exported from ports elsewhere in Australia. The main export products include Pearls from Oyster Pearls, corals and similar materials, fresh or chilled fish and crabs. Japan (80%), United States of America (10%) and Vietnam (5%) were the main export markets in 2018–19.
The Northern Territory has the highest residential recreational fishing participation rate in Australia at 32% (44,000 resident fishers) and the highest proportion of visiting interstate anglers (over 35,000 fishers) (Henry & Lyle 2003). In its 2015 survey, the Northern Territory Government found that most recreational fishing effort in the Greater Darwin Area is directed to the Darwin Harbour region (40%), followed by Bynoe Harbour (14%) and Shoal Bay (6%). Most (70%) fishing effort occurred in estuarine waters, with line fishing and mud crab potting being the most commonly used methods, accounting for 72% and 23% of methods used, respectively (Matthews et al 2019). The main target fish species are Barramundi, followed by Golden Snapper, small bait fish, Catfishes, Saddletail and Crimson Snapper and Mullets. Mud Crabs dominate the Crustacean catch, followed by Freshwater Prawns (Cherabin) (West et al 2012).
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 37,300 Indigenous people living in the north of Australia fished at least once during the survey year. This was equivalent to 92% of the surveyed Indigenous population in the region.
Indigenous fishers in northern Australia harvested approximately 900,000 Finfish, 1.1 million Molluscs, 660,000 Prawns and Yabbies, 180,000 Crabs and Tropical Rock Lobsters and smaller numbers of other species in 2000–01. The most prominent Finfish species groups were Mullets, Catfishes, Tropical Snapper, Breams and Barramundi. The most prominent non–Finfish species groups were Mussels, Freshwater Prawns, Mud Crabs, Prawns and Oysters.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Matthews, SR, Penny, SS and Steffe A 2019, A Survey of Recreational Fishing in the Greater Darwin Area 2015 (PDF 3.4 MB). Northern Territory Government, Australia. Fishery Report No 121.
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.