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 May 2020 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 69,400 people were employed in the Launceston and North East region. The region accounts for 28 per cent of total employment in Tasmania and 36 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 7,600 people, and education and training with 7,400 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were agriculture, forestry and fishing; accommodation and food services; and manufacturing. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 6,000 people, representing 9 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the Launceston and North East region was $692 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 ($192 million), cattle and calves ($164 million) and potatoes ($60 million). These commodities together contributed 60 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2018–19 the Launceston and North East region accounted for 81 per cent ($1 million) of the total value of Tasmania's canola 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, in particular for Abalone and Finfish. In 2017, the region was the source of 62% of total state-wide Greenlip Abalone catch and 10% of Blacklip Abalone catch (Mundy & McAllister 2019), alongside 10% of Tropical Rock Lobster catch in 2016–17 (Hartmann et al 2019). The region also produces some of the highest wild-catch catch concentrations of eastern Australian Salmon, Australian Sardine, Snook, Southern Garfish and Wrasse in the state (Moore et al 2019). In terms of Commonwealth catch, the region primarily lands catch from the Commonwealth Trawl Sector, the Gillnet Hook and Trap and the Southern Squid Jig Fishery, landing 1,969 tonnes in total in 2018–19. Aquaculture also occurs in the region and is primarily focused on Pacific Oyster and Abalone.
Recreational fishing is popular in the region, with Launceston and the North East showing a 25% participation rate in the 12 months before October 2017. A significant amount of fishing effort is also exerted in the region from local and state-wide residents, accounting for 23% of total effort. Launceston and North East residents were responsible for large portions of the fishing effort expended in the Tamar Estuary, the North east coast and the central east coast, accounting for 95%, 85% and 35%, respectively. In terms of total state catch, the region had the highest catch numbers of Black Bream (51%), Abalone (44%) and Australian Salmon (42%). Other commonly caught species include Flathead, Mullet, Flounder, Tunas, Gould’s Squid, Calamari and Tropical Rock Lobster (Lyle 2019).
Tasmania state data
In 2017–18 the gross value product (GVP) of Tasmanian fisheries and aquaculture is estimated to be around $1.07 billion, an increase of 13% ($121 million) from 2016–17. Tasmania contributed 34% of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2017–18. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 18% ($194.3 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 82% ($873.5 million).
Tasmania's wild-catch fisheries sector is dominated by two main products, Southern Rock Lobster and Abalone, which account for 50% and 44.5%, respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production in 2017–18. Tasmanian wild-catch GVP increased by 10% to $194.3 million in 2017–18. Southern Rock Lobster production value increased by 17% to $97.1 million as result of higher catch and increased average prices. In contrast, Abalone catch decreased in 2017–18 due to reductions in Total Allowable Catch (TAC). However, GVP increased by 3% to $86.4 million, reflecting an increase in average prices and demand for Abalone. Tasmania has recently introduced a new Seaweed fishery. While only a minor contributor to GVP at present, the sector may grow in importance over time.
Over the past decade the real value of Tasmania’s aquaculture production increased by 118%, reaching $873.5 million in 2017–18. This growth is mainly attributed to increases in the output of farmed Salmonid species, in particular, Atlantic Salmon. In 2017–18, the GVP of aquaculture in Tasmania increased by 13%. Salmonids are the major aquaculture product of Tasmania, accounting for 96% of total aquaculture production in that state. In 2017–18 Salmonids production value increased by 13% to $838.3 million, which was driven by a 17% increase in production volume. The increase in production volume was likely partially due to destocking of Tasmania’s Macquarie Harbour in late 2017 because of an outbreak of Pilchard Orthomyxovirus (POMV) (Street & Dunlevie 2018). In 2017–18 aquaculture Abalone had the highest relative production value increase (up 36% on 2016–17) and the Abalone aquaculture industry expanded, supported by higher prices (reflecting continued demand for Abalone from the Chinese market).
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.
In 2018–19, Tasmanian fisheries product exports were valued at $219.8 million and were dominated by exported Salmonids. China, Indonesia and Singapore are the major destinations for Tasmanian fisheries exports, accounting for 73%, 6% and 4% of the total value of exports in 2018–19, respectively.
Recreational fishing is popular in Tasmania with an estimated 106,000 Tasmanian residents (5 years and over) participating in the activity in the 12 months prior to October 2017, representing 24% of the total population (Lyle et al 2019). In its survey of recreational fishers in Tasmania found that half of the state’s fishing effort is directed to South East region. The key species caught by recreational fishers include Flathead, Australian Salmon, Trout, Gurnards, Wrasse, Southern Calamari, Gould’s Squid and Rock Lobster.
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.
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 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.
Hartmann, K, Gardner, C, Leon, R, Rizzari, J 2019 Fishery Assessment Report Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishery 2017/18 (PDF 978 KB), Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania.
Lyle, J.M., Stark, K.E., Ewing, G.P. & Tracey, S.R. 2019, 2017-18 survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania (PDF 2.2 MB), Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania.
Moore, B, Lyle, J & Hartmann, K 2019 Tasmanian scalefish fishery assessment 2017/18 (PDF 4 MB), IMAS Fisheries and Aquaculture, Hobart, Tasmania.
Mundy, C & McAllister, J 2019, Tasmanian abalone fishery assessment 2018 (PDF 4.2 MB), Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania.
Street, E & Dunlevie, J 2018, Macquarie Harbour salmon: 1.35 million fish deaths prompt call to ‘empty’ waterway of farms