About my region – Launceston and North East Tasmania
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 Launceston and North East region and the recent financial performance of the Tasmanian broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The Launceston and North East region of Tasmania is located in the north–east of the state and includes Flinders Island.
The region comprises the eight local government areas of Break O'Day, Dorset, Flinders, George Town, Launceston, Meander Valley, Northern Midlands and West Tamar, and the regional centres of Launceston, Campbell Town and Scottsdale. The region covers a total area of around 19,800 square kilometres or 29 per cent of Tasmania's total area and is home to approximately 143,800 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in the Launceston and North East region occupies 7,900 square kilometres, or 40 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 6,980 square kilometres, or 35 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 4,500 square kilometres or 23 per cent of the Launceston and North East region (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the November 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 68,700 people were employed in the Launceston and North East region. The region accounts for 27 per cent of total employment in Tasmania and 30 per cent of all people employed in the Tasmanian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 11,000 people, followed by retail trade with 7,900 people, and education and training with 6,700 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were accommodation and food services; construction; and manufacturing. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 4,600 people, representing 7per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Launceston and North East region was $668 million, which was 42 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Tasmania ($1.6 billion).
The Launceston and North East region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($168 million), cattle and calves ($157 million) and potatoes ($67 million). These commodities together contributed 59 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.
In 2017–18 the Launceston and North East region accounted for 92 per cent ($2 million) of the total value of Tasmania's canola production and 93 per cent ($7 million) of the total value of Tasmania's pig production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2017–18 there were 798 farms in the Launceston and North East region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 40 per cent of all farm businesses in Tasmania.
|Industry classification||Launceston and North East region||Tasmania|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region
to state total
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||217||27.2||518||41.9|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||145||18.2||374||38.9|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||132||16.5||313||42.1|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||104||13.1||178||58.7|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||90||11.3||245||36.8|
|Other Crop Growing nec||19||2.4||46||40.8|
|Berry Fruit Growing||16||2.0||36||45.4|
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 (217 farms) were the most common, accounting for 27 per cent of all farms in the Launceston and North East region, and 42 per cent of all beef cattle farms in Tasmania.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 24 per cent of farms in the Launceston and North East region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 3 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 21 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 67 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Launceston and North East region in 2017–18.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in Tasmania.
The Launceston and North East region of Tasmania is predominantly a wild–catch production area for shellfish, in particular abalone, scallop, and finfish. Georges Bay and Ansons Bay are key shellfish producing areas, including cockles, clams and some aquaculture oysters. Wild-caught greenlip and blacklip abalone production also occurs in the area as these species are abundant along the north coast toward Musselroe Point. The ports of Bridport and St. Helens are important landing sites for scallop fishers operating in both Commonwealth and Tasmanian fisheries.
Tasmania has a range of wild–catch finfish, crustacean, mollusc and aquaculture fisheries production. Hobart is the main fishing port in Tasmania servicing fishers across a range of commercial fishing activities. The Greater Hobart region is also renowned for its significant Atlantic salmon aquaculture sector. In the region, the Derwent River, Frederick Henry Bay and Norfolk Bay estuaries are popular sites for both recreational and commercial fishing. The rest of Tasmania is predominantly a wild–catch production area for shellfish, in particular Southern rock lobster, abalone and scallop, and finfish occurring mostly along the south west coast of Tasmania and at King Island. The Tasmanian greenlip abalone population is abundant along the north coast and around the Bass Strait islands. King Island is a large centre for giant crab production. Georges Bay and Ansons Bay are key shellfish producing areas, including cockles, clams and some aquaculture oysters. The ports of Bridport and St. Helens are important landing sites for scallop fishers operating in both Commonwealth and Tasmanian fisheries. Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout aquaculture also occurs in Macquarie Harbour.
In 2015–16 the gross value of Tasmanian fisheries production is estimated to be around $913 million, an increase of 11 per cent ($879 million) from 2014–15. Tasmania contributed 30 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 20 per cent ($182.3 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 80 per cent ($730.7 million).
Tasmania's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by two main products, abalone and southern rock lobster, which account for 44 per cent and 51 per cent, respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production in 2015–16. Over the past decade the real value of Tasmania's wild–caught fisheries products has reduced by 16 per cent to $182.3 million 2015–16. The decline in value was driven by 61 per cent decline in the total volume of wild–catch fisheries products.
The product for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade is abalone (both wild–caught and aquaculture), falling by 40 per cent to $83 million in 2015–16. This was the result of a 29 per cent reduction in volume. A large proportion of abalone is exported, mostly to Hong Kong, China and Japan. Exchange rate movements have a significant effect on the value of abalone exports and, in turn, production.
Southern rock lobster accounts for a significant proportion of Tasmanian wild–catch production, accounting for 24 per cent and 51 per cent of the total volume and value, respectively, of wild–catch production in 2015–16.
Commonwealth fisheries active in the Tasmania region include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) and the Shark Gillnet, Hook and Trap Sector (supplies gummy shark or 'flake' to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery and Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) also operate in the waters off Tasmania.
The importance of aquaculture in Tasmanian fisheries production increased over the past decade. Over the past decade the real value of aquaculture production tripled reaching $730.7 million in 2015–16, representing around 80 per cent of the state's fisheries production. Most of the growth in aquaculture production is attributed to increases in the output of farmed salmonid species, in particular Atlantic salmon.
In 2015–16, Tasmanian fisheries product exports were valued at $186.9 million. China and Vietnam, are the major destinations for Tasmania fisheries exports, accounting for 35 per cent and 24 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include Hong Kong (20 per cent) and Japan (7 per cent).
Recreational fishing is popular in Tasmania with an estimated 98,000 Tasmanian residents (5 years and over) participating in the activity in the 12 months prior to October 2012 (Lyle, Stark & Tracey 2014). In its survey of recreational fishers in Tasmania found that most fishing effort is directed to South East region (27 per cent). The key species caught by recreational fishers include Flathead, Australian salmon, Trout, Gurnards, Black Bream and Wrasse.
In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Launceston and North East region was 128,300 hectares, comprised of 91,300 hectares of hardwood plantations and 37,000 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species planted are blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and shining gum (E.nitens), and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2016, there were 908,900 hectares of native forests in the Launceston and North East region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium woodland forest (449,500 hectares), Eucalypt tall open forest (178,900 hectares), Eucalypt tall woodland forest (107,900 hectares) and Eucalypt medium open forest (52,700 hectares). The majority of native forests were privately owned (300,800 hectares), while 241,300 hectares were in nature conservation reserves and 202,700 hectares were multiple-use public forests. The region hosts a number of timber processing industries, mostly in the Tamar Valley including Bell Bay and Launceston.
In 2015–16, the total plantation area in Tasmania was 309,800 hectares, comprised of 233,900 hectares of hardwood plantations and 75,900 hectares of softwood plantations.
In 2015–16, the volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in Tasmania was 2 million cubic metres valued at $149 million. The volume of native hardwood logs harvested was 1.1 million cubic metres valued at $78 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 1.1 million cubic metres valued at $66 million.
The s ales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Tasmania was estimated at $389 million in 2015–16. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2015–16.
In 2016, the Tasmanian forestry sector employed 2,564 workers (1.2 per cent of the total employed workforce in Tasmania) compared with 3,529 (1.6 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes the following categories: forestry, logging, support services, timber wholesaling; and wood, 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 2019a Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, November 2019, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 January 2020.
ABS 2019b Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2017-18, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 May 2019.
Lyle, J.M., Stark, K.E. & Tracey, S.R. 2014, 2012–13 Survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.
Montreal Process Implementation Group for Australia and National Forest Inventory Steering Committee, 2018, Australia’s State of the Forests Report 2018, ABARES, Canberra, December. CC BY 4.0.