About my region – Sunshine 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, fisheries and forestry sectors in the Sunshine Coast region and the recent Queensland financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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​​​Regional overview

The Sunshine Coast region of Queensland is located in the south–east corner of the state. The region comprises part of the local government area of Sunshine Coast, and the major regional centres of Caloundra, Maroochydore, Nambour and Noosa Heads. The region covers a total area of around 3,100 square kilometres, or less than 1 per cent of Queensland's total area, and is home to approximately 365,800 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Sunshine Coast region occupies 1,100 square kilometres, or 36 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 880 square kilometres, or 29 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation, which occupies 530 square kilometres or 17 per cent of the Sunshine Coast region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Sunshine Coast region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Sunshine 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 May 2020 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 183,800 people were employed in the Sunshine Coast region. The Sunshine Coast accounts for 7 per cent of total employment in Queensland and 3 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 28,600 people, followed by construction with 24,500 people, and accommodation and food services with 19,400 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were education and training; retail trade; and professional, scientific and technical services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 2,300 people, representing 1 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Sunshine Coast region, May 2020
Shows the number of people employed in the Sunshine 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 Sunshine Coast region was $201 million, which was 2 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Queensland ($12.9 billion).

The Sunshine Coast region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were poultry ($45 million), followed by strawberries ($40 million) and macadamias ($27 million). These commodities together contributed 55 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Value of agricultural production, Sunshine 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: 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 293 farms in the Sunshine Coast region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 2 per cent of all farm businesses in Queensland.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Sunshine Coast region, 2017–18
Industry classification Sunshine Coast region ​Queensland
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing           84 28.8          761 11.1
Dairy Cattle Farming           54 18.3          423 12.7
Sugar Cane Growing           23 8.0      2,939 0.8
Berry Fruit Growing           17 5.9            82 21.0
Nursery Production (Outdoors)           15 5.1            78 19.1
Citrus Fruit Growing           15 5.0          201 7.3
Turf Growing           14 4.7            69 20.0
Floriculture Production (Under Cover)           12 4.1            38 31.7
Horse Farming           10 3.5          346 3.0
Other           49 16.6    12,411 0.4
Total agriculture        293 100    17,348 1.7

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 growing farms (84 farms) were the most common, accounting for 29 per cent of all farms in the Sunshine Coast region, and 11 per cent of all other fruit and tree nut growing farms 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 29 per cent of farms in the Sunshine Coast region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 5 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 13 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 57 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Sunshine Coast region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Sunshine Coast region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Sunshine Coast 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, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in Queensland.

Fisheries sector

The Sunshine Coast is an important region for both Commonwealth and state fisheries. In 2018–19, 7,627 tonnes of Commonwealth catch was landed at Mooloolaba port in the region, with the majority of the catch being sourced in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery. Commonwealth landings in 2018–19 included 2,191 tonnes of Yellowfin Tuna, 1,859 tonnes of Swordfish, 1,821 tonnes of Albacore, 567 tonnes of Bigeye Tuna and 372 tonnes of Striped Marlin.

Several state fisheries are also active in the area. These include: the East Coast Trawl Fishery, the Marine Aquarium Fish Fishery, the Blue Swimmer Crab Fishery and the Fin Fish (Stout Whiting) Trawl Fishery. The East Coast Trawl Fishery is the largest of Queensland's commercial fisheries, targeting Prawns, Bugs, Squid, Scallops and other species. The Eastern King Prawn is the most popular species harvested from this fishery in the region where it is also called a Mooloolaba Prawn. The Marine Aquarium Fish Fishery is a hand collection fishery, targeting marine aquarium fish for market domestically and internationally. The Sunshine Coast is one of three main harvesting areas of the fishery, with 7,000 fish caught in 2017 (Heaven 2018). The region is also important to the Blue Swimmer Crab fishery, where just under 50% of the total annual harvest is caught (QDAF 2013). Overall, 1,776 tonnes of state commercial catch was landed in the region in 2018–19, including 735 tonnes of Eastern King Prawn, 500 tonnes of Mullet and 250 tonnes of Spanner Crab (QDAF 2020a). Aquaculture is also present in the area, with 32.2 tonnes produced in 2018–19 at a total production value of $1.1 million (Schofield 2020).

Recreational fishing is popular in the Sunshine Coast, with 20.2% of residents fishing at least once each year, slightly higher than the state average of 18.7% (QDAF 2020b). They mostly fish in the south-eastern catchment and south-eastern coastal waters of Queensland, focusing primarily on estuaries and enclosed coastal waters. The most common species caught in this region are Sand Whiting, Flathead, Breams, Whitings and Mud Crabs (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 total plantation area in the Sunshine Coast region was 15,600 hectares, comprised of 600 hectares of hardwood plantations and 15,100 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood plantation species in Queensland is Dunns white gum (Eucalyptus dunnii). The main softwood plantation species in Queensland are Slash Pine hybrid (Pinus elliottii hybrid), Southern Pine hybrid (Pinus caribaea hybrid) and Hoop pines (Araucaria cunninghamii).

In 2016 there were 159,200 hectares of native forests in the Sunshine Coast region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Open (58,100 hectares), Other native forest (39,400 hectares) and Eucalypt Tall Open (21,900 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (90,200 hectares), while 53,400 hectares were in conservation reserves and 7,500 hectares were on multiple use public forest available for timber production.

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, 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.

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

Heaven, C 2018, Queensland Fisheries Summary (PDF 807 KB), Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane, 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 2013, Blue Swimmer Crab Fishery 2011 fishing year report (PDF 300 KB), Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane, Queensland. 

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: 24 July 2020
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