About my region – Gold Coast Queensland

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 sector in the Gold Coast region and the recent Queensland financial performance of the broadacre, beef, grains, dairy and vegetable industries.

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​​​​Regional overview

The Gold Coast region of Queensland is located in the south–east corner of the state. The region comprises the local government areas of Gold Coast and part of Scenic Rim. The region covers a total area of around 1,900 square kilometres, or less than 1 per cent of Queensland's total area, and is home to approximately 606,300 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Gold Coast region occupies 600 square kilometres, or 32 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 640 square kilometres, or 35 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation, which occupies 390 square kilometres or 21 per cent of the Gold Coast region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Gold Coast region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Gold Coast 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


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the August 2020 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 321,900 people were employed in the Gold Coast region. The region accounts for 13 per cent of total employment in Queensland and 2 per cent of all people employed in the Queensland agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 48,400 people, followed by construction with 37,900 people, and retail trade with 33,600 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were accommodation and food services; education and training; and professional, scientific and technical services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 1,600 people, representing less than 1 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Gold Coast region, August 2020
Shows the number of people employed in the Gold Coast 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 Gold Coast region was $73 million, which was 1 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Queensland ($12.9 billion).

The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were mushrooms ($38 million), followed by nurseries ($13 million) and sugarcane ($7 million). These commodities together contributed 80 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Value of agricultural production, Gold Coast region, 2018–19
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: 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 2018–19 there were 124 farms in the Gold Coast 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 Queensland.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Gold Coast region, 2018–19
Industry classification Gold Coast region ​Queensland
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Sugar Cane Growing  31 25.3  2,883 1.1
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)  19 15.5  8,740 0.2
Nursery Production (Under Cover)  17 13.5  81 20.8
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing  14 11.6  808 1.8
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)  11 9.1  697 1.6
Dairy Cattle Farming  11 8.6  408 2.6
Other  20 16.4  4,154 0.5
Total agriculture  124 100  17,771 0.7

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, Customised report, 2020

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Sugar cane farms (31 farms) were the most common, accounting for 25 per cent of all farms in the Gold Coast region, and 1 per cent of all sugar cane in Queensland.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 55 per cent of farms in the Gold Coast region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 11 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2018–19. In comparison, 12 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 60 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Gold Coast region in 2018–19.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Gold Coast region, 2018–19
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Gold Coast region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Note: Only farms with an EVAO of $50,000 or more in 2018–19 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, Customised report, 2020

Farm financial performance

Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in Queensland.

Fisheries sector

The Gold Coast is an important landing region to both state and Commonwealth fisheries. In 2018–19, 1,227 tonnes of Commonwealth catch was landed in the region, including 470 tonnes of Yellowfin Tuna, 178 tonnes of Swordfish, 176 tonnes of Albacore, 103 tonnes of Bigeye Tuna and 96 tonnes of Striped Marlin. The majority of Commonwealth catch landed in the Gold Coast region was sourced from the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery.

The region is also important to commercial state fisheries, most notably the River and Inshore Beam Trawl Fishery of the East Coast Trawl which targets Prawns. The Gold Coast region, alongside the Sunshine Coast and Greater Brisbane, is responsible for approximately 75% of this fishery’s annual harvest (DEEDI 2011). Overall, in 2018­–19, 1,404 tonnes of commercial state catch was sourced in the region including 291 tonnes of Eastern King Prawn and 158 tonnes of Mullets (QDAF 2020a).

Aquaculture is also present in the region. In 2018–19, 605.7 tonnes of aquaculture was produced in the area with a total production value of $11.2 million. The aquaculture industry in the region covers 80.8 hectares of ponded area and employs 49 people (Schofield 2020).

Recreational fishing is not as popular on the Gold Coast as it is throughout the wider state, with 13.3% of Gold Coast residents participating in recreational fishing at least once in 2019 compared to a state average of 18.7% (QDAF 2020b). For residents that do fish, the most popular fishing region was the south-eastern catchment, with the majority of fishing effort going into estuaries and enclosed coastal waters (e.g. southern Moreton Bay). Targeted species include Mud Crabs, Tailors, Flathead and Sand Whiting. Yellowtail Bream was the most commonly harvested species (Webley et al 2015).

Queensland state data

In 2017–18 the total gross value product (GVP) of Queensland's fisheries production was $294.4 million, a decrease of 5% ($14.9 million) from 2016–17. Queensland contributed 9% of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2017–18. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 61% ($180.2 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 39% ($114.2 million).

Queensland's wild-catch fisheries sector provides a range of fisheries products. The highest contribution being from Prawns and Coral Trouts. The GVP of wild-catch fisheries in Queensland decreased by 7% in 2017–18 to $180.2 million. Contributing to this decline was a decrease in the landed volume of Prawns (39% of total value of wild-catch; $70.1 million) and Coral Trouts (15% of total value of wild-catch; $27.1 million). The aggregate wild-caught GVP of Prawns, comprising mainly King Prawns, Tiger Prawns, Banana Prawns and Endeavour Prawns, decreased by 12% in 2017–18. The value of Coral Trouts decreased by 2% as a result of decreased catch.

The value of Queensland's aquaculture production decreased by 2% in 2017–18 to $114.2 million. This was largely due to a 4% decline in the GVP of Prawns to $74.7 million — down from $77.8 million in 2016–17; and lower production value of Barramundi, which declined by $1.5 million to $26.9 million. Prawns are Queensland’s biggest contributor to the aquaculture sector. The volume of aquaculture Prawns harvested for commercial purposes declined by 8% from 4,264 tonnes in 2016–17 to 3,921 tonnes in 2017–18. In 2016–17 prawn farms in the Logan River region of southern Queensland were destocked following an outbreak of White Spot Disease (McCarthy 2016; Mobsby & Curtotti 2019), with industry still rebuilding in 2017–18. In 2017–18 Queensland aquaculture production was dominated by Prawns and Barramundi, which together comprised 89% of GVP.

Commonwealth fisheries active in the waters off the east coast of Queensland include the Commonwealth Eastern Tuna and Billfish fishery (mainly supplying export markets with Tunas) and the Coral Sea Fishery.

In 2018–19, Queensland's fisheries product exports were valued at $185.8 million. Hong Kong and the China are the major destinations for Queensland fisheries exports, accounting for 29% and 21% of the total value of exports in 2018–19, respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (15%) and United States of America (12%).

Recreational fishing is popular in Queensland. The results of the 2019–20 state wide and regional recreational fishing survey stated that 18.7% of Queensland’s population participated in recreational fishing in 2019 (approximately 943,000 people) (QDAF 2020). Total expenditure in the sector was estimated to be between $350 million and $420 million in 2008–09 (DEEDI 2009). The tropical waters of Queensland are also a key area for tourism, attracting anglers from around the world. Popular target species include Crabs, Prawns and a range of Finfish species including Cods and Groupers, Coral Trouts, Redthroat Emperor and Mackerels. For freshwater activity some key species caught include Barramundi, Eels, Silver Perch and Yabbies.

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 Gold Coast region did not contain any forestry plantations.

In 2016 there were 100,100 hectares of native forests in the Gold Coast region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Open (42,100 hectares), Rainforest (22,200 hectares) and Other native forest (18,500 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (51,500 hectares), while 33,600 hectares were in conservation reserves and 12,500 hectares were on Crown land.

Queensland state data

In 2017–18, the total plantation area in Queensland was 230,500 hectares, comprised of 34,800 hectares of hardwood plantations and 195,600 hectares of softwood plantations.

In 2016, Queensland had 77 sawmills (including 31 softwood sawmills), 3 post and pole processors, 6 wood-based panel processors and 2 paper and paperboard processors.

In 2016, there were 51.6 million hectares of native forests in Queensland, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Woodland (27.1 million hectares), Melaleuca (5.1 million hectares) and Acacia (5.1 million hectares).

In 2017–18 the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Queensland was 279 thousand cubic metres valued at $39.7 million. There were no plantation hardwood logs harvested in this period. The volume of softwood logs harvested was 2.9 million cubic metres valued at $257.6 million.

In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Queensland was $2.6 billion. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2017–18.

In 2016 the Queensland forestry sector employed 9,520 workers (0.45 per cent) of the total employed workforce in Queensland compared with 12,840 (0.63 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, August 2020, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 12 December 2020.

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

DEEDI 2009, Prospects for Queensland's primary industries 2009–10, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Brisbane, Queensland.

DEEDI 2011, Annual status report 2011 River and Inshore Beam Trawl Fishery (PDF 244 KB), Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Queensland. 

McCarthy, M 2016, White spot outbreak a ‘wake-up call’ for Australia’s biosecurity system, as prawn farmers claim imports are to blame, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 23 December 2019, accessed 15 October 2019. 

Mobsby, D & Curtotti, R 2019, ABARES annual fisheries outlook 2019, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Department of Agriculture, Canberra, accessed 5 October 2019.

QDAF 2020a, QFish, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane, Queensland.

QDAF 2020b, Statewide recreational Fishing Surveys, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane, Queensland.

Schofield, R 2020, Ross Lobegeiger report to farmers Aquaculture production summary for Queensland 2018-19 (PDF 2.4 MB), Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane, Queensland.

Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson A & Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013-14, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane, Queensland.

Last reviewed: 12 March 2021
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