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

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Regional overview

The Wide Bay region of Queensland is located in the south–east of the state. The region comprises the five local government areas of Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Gympie, North Burnett, and South Burnett, and the major regional centres of Bundaberg, Gympie and Maryborough. The region covers a total area of around 48,400 square kilometres, or 3 per cent of Queensland's total area, and is home to approximately 294,400 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Wide Bay region occupies 33,000 square kilometres, or 68 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 7,800 square kilometres, or 16 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures which occupies 17,600 square kilometres or 36 per cent of the Wide Bay region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Wide Bay region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Wide Bay 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 111,800 people were employed in the Wide Bay region. The region accounts for 4 per cent of total employment in Queensland and 13 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 20,200 people, followed by retail trade with 12,100 people, and education and training with 10,700 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction; agriculture, forestry and fishing; and manufacturing. Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 10,200 people, representing 9 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Wide Bay region, May 2020
Shows the number of people employed in the Wide Bay 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 Wide Bay region was $1.5 billion, which was 12 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Queensland ($12.9 billion).

The Wide Bay region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were cattle and calves ($420 million), followed by mandarins ($166 million) and sugarcane ($118 million). These commodities together contributed 47 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2018–19 the Wide Bay region accounted for 96 per cent ($6 million) of the total value of Queensland's oranges production.

Value of agricultural production, Wide Bay 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 2,610 farms in the Wide Bay region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 15 per cent of all farm businesses in Queensland.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Wide Bay region, Queensland, 2017–18
Industry classification Wide Bay region Queensland
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region
to state total
%
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)     1,423 54.5      8,288 17.2
Sugar Cane Growing        336 12.9      2,939 11.4
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing        154 5.9          761 20.2
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)        133 5.1          639 20.9
Citrus Fruit Growing           73 2.8          201 36.4
Other Crop Growing nec           71 2.7          238 29.6
Other Grain Growing           63 2.4          985 6.4
Beef Cattle Feedlots (Specialised)           62 2.4          123 50.5
Horse Farming           61 2.3          346 17.6
Dairy Cattle Farming           50 1.9          423 11.8
Other  183 7.0  2,404 7.6
Total agriculture  2,610 100  17,348 15

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. nec Not elsewhere classified.
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. Beef cattle farms (1,423 farms) were the most common, accounting for 55 per cent of all farms in the Wide Bay region, and 17 per cent of all beef 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 41 per cent of farms in the Wide Bay region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 8 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 9 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 48 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Wide Bay region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Wide Bay region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Wide Bay 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 the broadacre, beef, grain, dairy and vegetable farms in Queensland.

Fisheries sector

The coastline of the Wide Bay region extends from the east of Gympie to just north of Bundaberg and includes Fraser Island and Hervey Bay. The region is important to several state fisheries, most notably the Blue Swimmer Crab Fishery from which approximately 50% of the total catch is taken between Sunshine Coast and Fraser Island (QDAF 2013). The region is also important to the River and Inshore Beam Trawl Fishery where 8.9% of the total harvest was taken in the region in 2011 (DEEDI 2011b) and the Fin Fish (Stout Whiting) Trawl Fishery which operates between Fraser Island and the New South Wales border (DEEDI 2011a). Commonwealth fisheries active offshore from the region including the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, the Small Pelagic Fishery and the East Coast Deepwater Trawl Sector. In 2018–19, 2,867 tonnes of commercial catch was landed in the region including 654 tonnes of Eastern King Prawn, 565 tonnes of Spanner Crab, 544 tonnes of Mullets, 121 tonnes of Mackerels and 78 tonnes of Blue Swimmer Crab (QDAF 2020b). Aquaculture is also present with 275.3 tonnes produced in 2018–19, valued at $6.8 million (Schofield 2020). Aquaculture species harvested in the area include Prawns, Barramundi, Redclaw and Scallops.

Recreational fishing is also popular in the Wide Bay region. In 2019, 24.7% of Wide Bay residents participated in recreational fishing activities at least once during the year (QDAF 2020a). The most popular place to fish was the south-eastern catchment and Fraser coastal waters in estuaries and enclosed coastal zones. Species commonly targeted by residents include Mud Crabs, Sand Whiting, Breams, Golden Perch and Flathead. Trumpeter Whiting were 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 total plantation area in the Wide Bay region was 128,200 hectares, comprised of 13,600 hectares of hardwood plantations and 114,500 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 2.3 million hectares of native forests in the Wide Bay region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Open (855,800 hectares), Eucalypt Medium Woodland (853,200 hectares) and Other native forest (323,900 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (1,157,100 hectares), while 465,900 hectares were multiple use public forest available for timber production and 412,000 hectares were on in conservation reserves.

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.

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 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.

DEEDI 2011a, Annual status report 2010 Fin Fish (Stout Whiting) Trawl Fishery (PDF 325 KB), Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Queensland.

DEEDI 2011b, 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 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: 27 July 2020
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