About my region – South 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 South East region and the recent financial performance of the Tasmanian broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The South East region of Tasmania is located in the south east corner of the state but excludes the Hobart statistical area. The region covers the six local government areas of Central Highlands, Derwent Valley, Glamorgan—Spring Bay, Huon Valley, Southern Midlands and Tasman, part of Kingborough, and the regional centres of Dover, Oatlands, Port Arthur, Strathgordon and Triabunna. The region covers a total area of around 23,800 square kilometres or 34.8 per cent of Tasmania's total area and is home to approximately 38,100 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the South East region occupies 6,660 square kilometres, or 28 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 11,630 square kilometres, or 49 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is nature conservation, which occupies 9,000 square kilometres or 38 per cent of the South East region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the South East region
Shows a map of broad land use in the 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. 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 18,300 people were employed in the South East region. The South East region accounts for 7 per cent of total employment in Tasmania and 16 per cent of all people employed in the Tasmanian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector was the largest employment sector with 2,700 people, representing 15 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 2,300 people, followed by construction with 2,000 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were education and training; retail trade; and accommodation and food services.

Employment profile, South East region, May 2020
Shows the number of people employed in the Greater Adelaide 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 East region was $278 million, which was 17 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Tasmania ($1.6 billion).

The South East region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wool ($60 million), followed by cherries ($51 million) and sheep and lambs ($25 million). These commodities together contributed 49 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Value of agricultural production, 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 372 farms in the South East region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 19 per cent of all farm businesses in Tasmania.

Number of farms, by industry classification, South East region, 2017–18
Industry classification South East region Tasmania
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Sheep Farming (Specialised)        147 39.4          313 46.9
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming           48 12.8          178 26.9
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)           42 11.2          518 8.0
Apple and Pear Growing           30 8.0            39 76.7
Stone Fruit Growing           29 7.7            43 66.9
Grape Growing           15 3.9            45 32.1
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)           11 3.0          245 4.6
Other Crop Growing nec           11 2.9            46 23.2
Berry Fruit Growing           10 2.6            36 26.6
Dairy Cattle Farming             5 1.3          374 1.3
Other           26 7.1          142 18.6
Total agriculture        372 100      1,979 18.8

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. Sheep farms (147 farms) were the most common, accounting for 39 per cent of all farms in the South East region, and 47 per cent of all sheep 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 36 per cent of farms in the 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, 19 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 68 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the South East region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, South East region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Greater Adelaide 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 Tasmania.

Fisheries sector

The South East region of Tasmania is predominantly an aquaculture production area, but also a wild-catch production area for Shellfish, including Abalone, Scallop, and Finfish. The region contributes approximately 35% of the state’s wild-caught Blacklip Abalone (Mundy & McAllister 2019) and 10% of Tropical Rock Lobster catch (Hartmann et al 2019) and is a dominant contributor to the state’s Scallop catch – primarily due to the large catch sourced from Mayfield Bay and the surrounding area (Semmens et al 2019). The oceans offshore from the region are also supply catch of Banded Morwong, Trumpeter, Blue Warehou, Tiger Flathead, Sand Flathead, Gould’s Squid, Jack Mackerel, Jackass Morwong, Leather Jacket, Boarfish, Southern Calamari, Striped Trumpeter and Wrasse. In terms of Commonwealth catch, the region landed 1,537 tonnes in 2018–19, with the majority of the catch landing in Triabunna. Species commonly landed include Gummy Shark (348 tonnes), Tiger Flathead (303 tonnes) and Pink Ling (205 tonnes). Aquaculture is a dominant industry in the region. Salmonid aquaculture is particularly prominent, being the largest aquaculture sector in Tasmania in terms of both production and value and with 71% of employees operating out of Hobart and the south-east region. Overall, the Salmonid industry employs 2,090 full-time equivalent employees, contributing 1.2% to Tasmania’s total employment (Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council 2017). Other aquaculture industries in the area include Oyster, Abalone and Rainbow Trout farms operating out of Hobart and in the south-east.

The South East region has the highest participation in recreational fishing in Tasmania, with 31.2% of the resident population aged five years or older fishing at least once in the 12 months prior to October 2017 (Lyle et al 2019). The region includes the most popular trout angling locations in Tasmania on the Central Plateau where an estimated two-thirds of Trout are caught, with Arthurs Lake and the Great Lake being particularly important. The region is also popular with inshore boat fishers, particularly in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel where large numbers of Flathead and Scallops are harvested, and on the central east coast where Finfish are the main target species. The central east coast is a popular fishing location for visitors from other regions of Tasmania. Overall, the region contributed significantly to state-wide recreational catch, with 85% of Tunas species, 57% of Calamari, 46% of Tropical Rock Lobster, 42% of Flathead and 38% of Abalone total state-wide catch sourced from the region (Lyle et al 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.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the South East region was 71,800 hectares, comprised of 52,300 hectares of hardwood plantations, 18,200 hectares of softwood plantations and 1,300 hectares of other 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 1.2 million hectares of native forests in the South East region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium woodland forest (386,800 hectares), Eucalypt tall open forest (377,900 hectares), rainforest (153,100 hectares) and Eucalypt tall woodland forest (135,300 hectares). The majority of native forests were in nature conservation reserves (603,200 hectares), while 356,800 hectares were privately owned and 215,900 hectares were multiple-use public forests. Major timber processing industries are located in Geeveston and Southwood.

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 2.0 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 sales 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.

Areas of native forest, by tenure, South East region

Shows areas of native forest, by tenure, in the South East region of Tasmania. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.

Source: Australia's State of the Forest Report 2018, ABARES

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.

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 2.2MB), Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, 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. 

Semmens, J, Ewing, G, Keane, J 2019, Tasmanian Scallop Fishery Assessment 2018 (PDF 846 KB), 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, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 29 May 2018, accessed 27 October 2019.

Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council 2017, Seafood Industry Workforce Profile (PDF 5.1MB), Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council.

Last reviewed: 3 August 2020
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