About my region – South-East South Australia

​​​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 South Australia – South East region and the recent financial performance of the South Australian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The South Australia – South East region stretches from the area adjacent to the Victorian border to Kangaroo Island in the west. The region comprises nineteen local government areas and the major regional centres of Mount Gambier, Murray Bridge, Naracoorte and Renmark. The region covers a total area of around 65,400 square kilometres or 7 per cent of South Australia's total area and is home to approximately 190,800 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the South Australia – South East region occupies 48,500 square kilometres, or 74 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 12,600 square kilometres, or 19 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 31,900 square kilometres or 49 per cent of the South Australia – South East region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the South Australia – South East region
Shows a map of broad land use in the South Australia – South East 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. Map of Australia shows that the South East region of South Australia stretches from the area adjacent to the Victorian boarder to Kangaroo Island in the west and includes the major regional centres of Keith, Mount Gambier, Murray Bridge, Naracoorte and Renmark. 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 89,400 people were employed in the South Australia – South East region. The South Australia – South East region accounts for 11 per cent of total employment in South Australia and 44 per cent of all people employed in the South Australian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 13,500 people, representing 15 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 12,800 people, followed by retail trade with 10,200 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were manufacturing; construction; and education and training.

Employment profile, South Australia – South East region, May 2020
Shows the number of people employed in the South Australia 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 South Australia – South East region was $3.5 billion, which was 52 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in South Australia ($6.8 billion).

The South Australia – South East region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the South Australia – South East region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wine grapes ($403 million), followed by wool ($305 million) and potatoes ($274 million). These commodities together contributed 28 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2018–19 the South Australia – South East region accounted for 100 per cent of the total value ($6 million) of South Australia's avocado production.

Value of agricultural production, South Australia – South East 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 4,062 farms in the South Australia – South East region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 45 per cent of all farm businesses in South Australia.

Number of farms, by industry classification, South Australia – South East region, 2017–18
Industry classification South East region South Australia
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Sheep Farming (Specialised)        766 18.9      1,273 60.1
Grape Growing        751 18.5      1,318 57.0
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming        571 14.1      1,910 29.9
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)        497 12.2          675 73.5
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming        484 11.9          578 83.7
Other Grain Growing        268 6.6      1,813 14.8
Citrus Fruit Growing        186 4.6          190 98.0
Dairy Cattle Farming        171 4.2          216 79.2
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)           81 2.0          248 32.6
Pig Farming           61 1.5          123 49.4
Other        227 5.6          667 34.0
Total agriculture     4,062 100      9,010 45.1

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. Sheep farms (766 farms) were the most common, accounting for 19 per cent of all farms in the South Australia – South East region, and 60 per cent of all sheep farms in South Australia.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 32 per cent of farms in the South Australia – South East 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, 16 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 59 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the South Australia – South East region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, South Australia – South East region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the South Australia – South East 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, dairy and vegetable farms in South Australia.

Fisheries sector

The South Australia – South East region has an extensive seafood industry including wild-catch and aquaculture. In 2018–19, 1,282 tonnes of Commonwealth wild-catch was landed in the region including 932 tonnes of Gummy Shark, 145 tonnes of School Shark, 46 tonnes of Breams and 43 tonnes of Broadnose Shark. State fisheries are also active in the region most notably the Southern Rock Lobster Fishery which contributes $86.7 million to the states production value. Seventy-five per cent of the Southern Rock Lobster Fishery’s total catch is sourced from Kangaroo Island, Coorong Estuary and further east. The Lakes and Coorong Fishery is also important in the area and is responsible for almost all state wild-catch of Golden Perch, Mulloway, Murray Cod and Yelloweye Mullet. Together these species contribute over $1.1 million to the states value of production. Pipis are also caught in the Lakes and Coorong Fishery on the ocean beach of the Younghusband Peninsula, contributing $3.2 million (PIRSA 2015). Other species caught in the region include Southern Calamari, Mud Cockle and Giant Crab.

Aquaculture is also a significant contributor to the South-East regional economy. On Kangaroo Island, Oysters, Abalone, Freshwater Finfish, Marron and Yabbies are all harvested, with 27 tonnes ($0.2 million in value) of Oysters and 156 tonnes ($6.7 million in value) of Abalone in 2017–18. A further 223 tonnes ($3.3 million) of freshwater Finfish was produced in the Murraylands and south east region of the state (BDO EconSearch 2019).

Recreational fishing is popular in the south-east region, with 22.5% of Murrayland residents and 25% of south east residents fishing in the 12 months before November 2013. In terms of fishing effort, 18.4% of state-wide effort was dedicated to the region as a whole. Commonly caught species include Giant Crab, Southern Rock Lobster, Pipi, Mulloway, Australian Salmon, Southern Garfish and Breams (Giri & Hall 2015).

South Australia state data

In 2017–18 the gross value production (GVP) of South Australia's fisheries and aquaculture decreased by 3% ($13.9 million) to $469.7 million from 2016–17. This decline resulted mainly from an 11% fall in the value of aquaculture production. South Australia contributed 15% of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2017–18. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 56% ($264 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 44% ($205.7 million).

South Australia's wild-catch fisheries sector is dominated by four main products – Southern Rock Lobster, Prawns, Abalone and Australian Sardines – which accounted for 46% ($122.6 million), 19% ($51.2 million), 10% ($27.2 million) and 10% ($26.4 million) respectively of the total value of wild-caught production in 2017–18. In the 10 years up to 2017–18 the real value of South Australia's wild-caught fisheries products has increased by 2.5% to $264 million (2015–16), with a 4% increase in GVP in 2017–18. The increase in 2017–18 was primarily driven by increases in catch and price for a number of species. Catch of Prawns increased by 6% to 2,577 tonnes and value increased by 11% to $51.2 million. Of the wild-caught Finfish species, Australian Sardines made the largest contribution to GVP, increasing by 11% in value in 2017–18 to $26.4 million. Australian Sardines are predominantly used as feed for Tunas produced by SA Southern Bluefin Tuna ranching sector (Econsearch 2018). Australian Sardines have a low unit value but are caught in large volumes. In 2017–18 Australian Sardines accounted for 82% of the 52,833 tonnes of wild-caught production.

In 2017–18 the value of South Australia's aquaculture production is estimated to have declined by 11% from $230.5 million in 2016–17 to $205.7 million in 2017–18. A leading factor in the decline of Aquaculture GVP in South Australia was the volume of Oysters (predominantly Pacific Oyster) produced in 2017–18. The volume of Oysters produced declined by 58% in 2017–18 to 2,177 tonnes. As a result, in 2017–18 the GVP of Oysters halved from 2016–17 levels to $20.2 million. The decline in production is due to the outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) diseases in Tasmania in 2016. While South Australia is classified as POMS free, the South Australian Oyster industry is heavily reliant on spat grown in Tasmania, meaning that production has been limited since the POMS outbreak (Nogrady 2019). Southern Bluefin Tuna accounts for 61% of aquaculture GVP, with a production value of $126.0 million. Southern Bluefin Tuna is ranched off the coast of Port Lincoln and is mostly exported to the Japanese market as a high-value product (DA 2015).

Commonwealth fisheries active in waters off South Australia include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (supplies Gummy Shark or flake to Melbourne) and the Great Australian Bight sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery harvesting mainly Redfish and Flathead. The Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) also operates in the waters off South Australia.

In 2018–19, South Australia's fisheries product exports were valued at $261 million. The main export products include Tunas, Southern Rock Lobster and Abalone. Japan, China and Hong Kong are the major destinations for South Australian fisheries exports, accounting for 46%, 30% and 13% of the total value of exports in 2018–19, respectively.

Recreational fishing is popular in South Australia with an estimated 277,027 South Australians (five years and over) participating in the activity in the 12 months prior to November 2013. Most fishing effort is directed to Spencer Gulf (37%) and the Gulf St. Vincent and Kangaroo Island waters (28%), followed by West Coast (16%) and the South East waters (6%), with 87%  of effort occurring in marine waters, including estuaries, and inshore and offshore waters. The remaining 13% of effort was in freshwater activity, with the majority of this effort occurring in the River Murray. The key species caught by recreational fishers include King George Whiting, Australian Herring, Southern Garfish, Breams, Yellowfin Whiting, Blue Swimmer Crab, Pipi and Southern Calamari (Giri and Hall 2015).

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 South Australia - South East region was 167,600 hectares, comprised of 50,800 hectares of hardwood plantations and 116,700 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood plantation species in South Australia are Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and other eucalyptus species (Eucalyptus nitens). The main softwood plantation species in South Australia is Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2016 there were 883,200 hectares of native forests in the South Australia - South East region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Mallee Woodland (588,700 hectares), Eucalypt Medium Woodland (111,100 hectares) and Eucalypt Mallee Open (72,600 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (491,900 hectares), while 310,400 hectares were in conservation reserves and 48,500 hectares were on leasehold land.

South Australia state data

In 2017–18, the total plantation area in South Australia was 172,200 hectares, comprised of 44,800 hectares of hardwood plantations and 127,200 hectares of softwood plantations.

In 2016, South Australia had 13 sawmills, 2 post and pole processors, 2 wood-based panel processors and one paper and paperboard processor.

In 2016, there were 4.8 million hectares of native forests in South Australia, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Mallee Woodland (3.7 million hectares), Casuarina (252,400 hectares) and Eucalypt Mallee Open (208,100 hectares).

In 2017–18 the volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 1.1 million cubic metres valued at $88.0 million. The volume of softwood logs harvested was 3.1 million cubic metres valued at $245.7 million. There is no native hardwood harvesting in South Australia.

In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in South Australia was $1.2 billion. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2017–18.

In 2016 the South Australia forestry sector employed 5,520 workers (0.74 per cent) of the total employed workforce in South Australia compared with 6,500 (0.88 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.

BDO EconSearch 2019, The Economic Contribution of Aquaculture in the South Australian State and Regional Economies, 2017/18 – A Report to Primary Industries and Regions South Australia Fisheries and Aquaculture (PDF1.4 MB), Adelaide, SA.

DA 2015, Australia’s seafood trade (PDF 1.5 MB), Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Canberra.

Econsearch 2018, The economic contribution of aquaculture in the South Australian state and regional economies, 2016/1 (PDF 1.4 MB), report to Primary Industries and Regions South Australia Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Giri K and Hall K 2015, South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey (PDF 2.1 MB). Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62.

Nogrady, B 2019, POMS: where is the Pacific Oyster industry now?, Fisheries Research & Development Corporation News, vol. 27, no. 3, September 2019.

PIRSA 2015, Status of South Australian Fisheries Report (PDF 3.3 MB), South Australian Fisheries Management Series, Paper number 69. Primary Industries and Regions SA, Adelaide.

Last reviewed: 28 July 2020
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