About my region – West and North West 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 West and North West region and the recent financial performance of the Tasmanian broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The West and North West region of Tasmania is located in the north–west of the state and includes King Island. The region covers the nine local government areas of Burnie, Central Coast, Circular Head, Devonport, Kentish, King Island, Latrobe, Waratah—Wynyard and West Coast, and the major regional centres of Burnie, Devonport, Queenstown and Smithton. The region covers a total area of around 22,400 square kilometres or 33 per cent of Tasmania's total area and is home to approximately 111,300 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in the West and North West region occupies 3,670 square kilometres, or 16 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 13,610 square kilometres, or 61 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is nature conservation, which occupies 7,100 square kilometres or 32 per cent of the West and North West region, followed by production forestry (3,150 square kilometres, 14 per cent of the region) (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the August 2020 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 47,800 people were employed in the West and North West region. The West and North West region accounts for 19 per cent of total employment in Tasmania and 33 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 7,800 people, followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing with 5,600 people, and manufacturing with 4,800 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were retail trade; construction; and accommodation and food services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector represented 12 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the West and North West region was $613 million, which was 37 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Tasmania ($1.6 billion).
The West and North West region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($248 million), followed by cattle and calves ($152 million) and potatoes ($65 million). These commodities together contributed 76 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2018–19 there were 777 farms in the West and North West region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 36 per cent of all farm businesses in Tasmania.
|Industry classification||West and North West region||Tasmania|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region
to state total
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||313||40.2||645||48.5|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||206||26.4||404||50.9|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||144||18.5||246||58.6|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||18||2.3||188||9.5|
|Nursery Production (Outdoors)||10||1.3||16||62.5|
|Vegetable Growing (Under Cover)||9||1.2||13||71.0|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||8||1.1||304||2.7|
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, Customised report, 2020
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (313 farms) were the most common, accounting for 40 per cent of all farms in the West and North West region, and 48 per cent of all beef 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 22 per cent of farms in the West and North West 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 2018–19. In comparison, 16 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 57 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the West and North West region in 2018–19.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in Tasmania.
The West and North West region of Tasmania is predominantly a wild-catch production area for Shellfish, in particular Southern Rock Lobster, Abalone and Scallop, and Finfish. The region contributes approximately 71% of the state’s total Blacklip Abalone catch, 70% Tropical Rock Lobster catch, 70% Giant Grab Catch, 44% Greenlip Abalone catch and all Octopus catch (Emery et al 2015; Hartman et al 2019; Hill et al 2020; Mundy & McAllister 2019). Other species caught in the region include Australian Salmon, Gould’s Squid, Mullet, Calamari, Striped Trumpeter, Wrasse and Scallop (Moore et al 2019). In terms of Commonwealth catch, the region landed 3,673 tonnes in 2018–19 including 1,665 tonnes of Scallop, 1,144 tonnes of Gummy Shark, 348 tonnes of Pink Ling and 206 tonnes of School Shark.
The region also contributes a significant amount to the state-wide aquaculture production, with 18% of the Salmonid aquaculture sector working out of the North West near Devonport and Parramatta Creek. Oyster and Abalone farms are also established in the region (Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council 2017).
Recreational fishing is also popular in the region, with 25% of residents fishing in the 12 months before November 2017 and the area itself contributing 20% to total state-wide effort. In terms of recreational catch numbers, 65% of Mullet, 46% of Trout, 43% of Flounder and 27% of Australian Salmon was caught in 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.
In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the West and North West region was 106,200 hectares, comprised of 86,700 hectares of hardwood plantations and 19,500 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 1.1 million hectares of native forests in the West and North West region, comprised mainly of rainforest (498,400 hectares), Eucalypt tall open forest (266,000 hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland forest (161,100 hectares) and Eucalypt medium open forest (66,000 hectares). The majority of native forests were in nature conservation reserves (684,600 hectares), while 189,000 hectares were multiple-use public forests and 144,900 hectares were on land classified as other Crown land. Major timber processing industries are located in Burnie, Hampshire and Smithton.
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.
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, August 2020, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 12 December 2020.
ABS 2020b, Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2018-19, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 29 May 2020.
Emery, T, Hartmann, K & Gardner, C 2015, Tasmanian Giant Crab Fishery – 13/14 (PDF 576 KB), Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania.
Hill, N, Krueck, N & Hartmann, K, 2020, Tasmanian Octopus Fishery Assessment 2018/19 (PDF 1.1MB), Institute of 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.
Moore, B, Lyle, J & Hartmann, K 2019 Tasmanian scalefish fishery assessment 2017/18 (PDF 4MB), 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, 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.