About my region – Greater Melbourne Victoria

​​​​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 and fisheries sectors in the Greater Melbourne region and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Greater Melbourne region comprises 29 local government areas and parts of five others. It includes Melbourne and the major regional centres of Bacchus Marsh, Cockatoo, Frankston, Healesville, Macedon and Werribee. The region covers a total area of around 10,000 square kilometres or 4 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 4.8 million people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Greater Melbourne region occupies 3,600 square kilometres, or 36 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 1,700 square kilometres, or 17 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 2,600 square kilometres or 26 per cent of the Greater Melbourne region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Greater Melbourne region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Geater Melbourne 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 2.7 million people were employed in the Greater Melbourne region. The region accounts for 79 per cent of total employment in Victoria and 27 per cent of all people employed in the Victorian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 357,700 people, followed by professional, scientific and technical services with 293,400 people, and retail trade with 266,200 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction; education and training; and manufacturing. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 23,200 people, representing 1 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Greater Melbourne region, May 2020
greatermelbourne_empl_2020may.png
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 Greater Melbourne region was $1.3 billion, which was 8 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15.9 billion).

The Greater Melbourne region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were nurseries ($286 million), followed by poultry ($168 million) and mushrooms ($102 million). These commodities together contributed 42 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2018–19 the Greater Melbourne region accounted for 97 per cent ($57 million) of the total value of Victoria's strawberry production.

Value of agricultural production, Greater Melbourne 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 1,600 farms in the Greater Melbourne region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 8 per cent of all farm businesses in Victoria.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Greater Melbourne region, 2017–18
Industry classification Greater Melbourne region Victoria
Number of farms % of region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)        444 27.8      4,975 8.9
Dairy Cattle Farming        216 13.5      3,547 6.1
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)        203 12.7          443 45.8
Grape Growing           98 6.1          557 17.6
Poultry Farming (Meat)           87 5.4          149 58.3
Horse Farming           75 4.7          382 19.7
Nursery Production (Outdoors)           71 4.4          155 45.9
Berry Fruit Growing           66 4.1            91 72.4
Floriculture Production (Under Cover)           60 3.7            63 94.2
Nursery Production (Under Cover)           53 3.3            90 58.7
Poultry Farming (Eggs)           49 3.1            93 52.8
Apple and Pear Growing           31 1.9          159 19.5
Stone Fruit Growing           26 1.6          169 15.2
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming           25 1.6      1,286 1.9
Other           96 6.0      7,581 1.3
Total agriculture     1,600 100    19,739 8.1

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. Beef cattle farms (444 farms) were the most common, accounting for 28 per cent of all farms in the Greater Melbourne region, and 9 per cent of all beef cattle farms in Victoria.

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 Greater Melbourne region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 4 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 23 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 70 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Greater Melbourne region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Greater Melbourne region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Greater Melbourne 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 Victoria.

Fisheries sector

Commercial fishing in the Greater Melbourne region mostly occurs in Port Phillip Bay and Western Port. These are key landing sites and homeports for fishing vessels in Victoria. Much of this catch is sold through the Melbourne Seafood Centre (opened in 2012, previously the site of the Melbourne wholesale fish market), Australia's second largest seafood market after the Sydney Fish Market. Popular commercial wild-catch species in Port Phillip Bay include: Australian Anchovy, Australian Salmon, Australian Sardine, Squid, Flathead, Flounder, Garfish, Gummy Shark, King George Whiting, Breams and Yelloweye Mullet. The main targeted wild-catch species in Western Port include: Australian Salmon, Australian Sardine, Barracouta, Squid, Elephantfish, Flathead, Flounder, Garfish, Gummy Shark, Breams, Yelloweye Mullet, Blue Weed-Whiting and king George Whiting (Victorian Fisheries Authority Commercial Fish Production Information Bulletin 2019).

The Greater Melbourne region is also home to a large aquaculture sector, focused primarily on Blue Mussel and cage Abalone. Aquaculture sites in the region include the Beaumaris Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve, the Dromana Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve and the Mount Martha Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve, all in Port Phillip Bay (Department of Primary Industries 2005a) and the Flinders Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve in Western Port Bay (Department of Primary Industries 2005b). The Greater Melbourne region is also a key area for recreational fishing. Although the participation rate of Melbourne residents in recreational fishing (10.2%) is lower than the state average (12.7%), the large population means that 58% of all Victorian recreational fishers live in this region (Henry & Lyle 2003). Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay are popular recreational fishing areas for local and regional residents (Australian Survey Research Pty Ltd 2018). A 2008–2011 monitoring program found that in Port Phillip Bay Breams were the most commonly caught recreational species, followed by Flathead, King George Whiting and Black Beam (Ford and Gilmour 2013).

Victoria state data

In 2017–18 the gross value production (GVP) of Victoria's fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild-catch) was $111 million, an increase of 19% ($17.4 million) from 2016–17. Victoria contributed 3% of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2017–18. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 57% ($62.8 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 43% ($48.3 million).

Victoria's wild-catch fisheries sector increased by 15% to $62.8 million in 2017–18 from $54.4 million in 2016–17. The sector is dominated by two main products; Abalone and Southern Rock Lobster, which accounted for 43% ($26.9 million) and 37% ($23.3 million), respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production. The increase in Victoria’s wild-catch GVP in 2017–18 is almost entirely attributed to higher GVP of Abalone. GVP of wild-caught Abalone increased 31% to $26.9 million driven in large part by higher unit prices, which increased by 24% to $35.6 per kilogram in 2017–18 as a result of strong demand in the Chinese market.

In 2017–18 the value of Victoria's aquaculture production increased by 23% to $48.3 million, with Abalone, Salmonids and Mussels accounting for 52%, 28.5% and 11% respectively. Almost all of the growth in the GVP of Victoria’s aquaculture in 2017–18 is attributed to a 42% increase in Abalone GVP to $25.2 million. The value of Salmonids slightly decreased by 6% to a value of $13.7 million, due to a decrease in production volume.

Commonwealth fisheries active in the waters off Victoria include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (a major source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) and the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (which supplies Gummy Shark or 'flake' to Melbourne). The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery, Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) and the Southern Squid Jig Fishery also operate in the waters off Victoria.

In 2018–19, fisheries products exported from Victoria were valued at $247 million. This value includes State and Commonwealth fisheries products exported from the ports of Victoria, which may be sourced from Victorian waters or other parts of the country. The main export products include Abalone and Southern Rock Lobster. China, Hong Kong and Singapore are the major destinations for Victorian fisheries exports, accounting for 60%, 15% and 8% of the total value in 2018–19, respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (5%) and New Zealand (5%).

Recreational fishing is popular in Victoria. In a 2015 Economic Study it was found that over 835,000 Victorian residents participate in recreational fishing annually (Ernst & Young 2015). In 2013–14 alone, Victorian residents made 6.1 million fishing trips across the state (Ernst & Young 2015), with Port Phillip Bay, Western Port and Gippsland Lakes being the most popular marine/estuarine recreational fishing locations (Australian Survey Research Pty Ltd 2018). Recreational fishing in Victoria includes gamefishing for species such as Southern Bluefin Tuna (Green et al 2012), diving for Southern Rock Lobster, Abalone, and Scallops and hook and line fishing for a range of Finfish species, such as Breams, King George Whiting, Flathead and Squid (Australian Survey Research Pty Ltd 2018).

Freshwater lakes and rivers are also popular fishing destinations for Victorian residents, especially the Murray River, Lake Eildon and the Goulburn River. Murray Cod, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Redfin, Golden Perch and Yabbies are the most popular freshwater species targeted by Victorian residents (Australian Survey Research Pty Ltd 2018).

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 Greater Melbourne region was about 2,800 hectares, comprised of 820 hectares of hardwood plantations and 1,990 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood plantation species in Victoria are Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens). The main softwood plantation species in Victoria is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2016 there were about 261,300 hectares of native forests in the Greater Melbourne region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Open (170,900 hectares), Eucalypt Tall Open (32,600 hectares) and Eucalypt Medium Woodland (30,100 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (95,300 hectares), while 89,800 hectares were in conservation reserves and 62,300 hectares were on multiple use public forest available for timber production.

Victoria state data

In 2017–18, the total plantation area in Victoria was 420,600 hectares, comprised of 196,300 hectares of hardwood plantations and 223,400 hectares of softwood plantations.

In 2016, Victoria had 34 sawmills (including 9 softwood sawmills), 8 post and pole processors, 3 wood based panel processors and 5 paper and paperboard processors.

In 2016, there were 7.6 million hectares of native forests in Victoria, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Open (3.1 million hectares), Eucalypt Tall Open (1.4 million hectares) and Eucalypt Mallee Woodland (1.3 million hectares).

In 2017–18, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Victoria was 1.2 million cubic metres, valued at $103.5 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in Victoria was 3.6 million cubic metres, valued at $262.3 million. The volume of plantation softwood logs harvested in Victoria was 4.3 million cubic metres, valued at $341.5 million.

In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Victoria was $3.6 billion.  Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2017–18.

In 2016, the Victoria forestry sector employed 15,105 workers (0.60 per cent of the total employed workforce in Victoria) compared with 20,167 (0.74 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.

Australian Survey Research Pty Ltd 2018, Victorian Fisheries Authority Recreational Fishing in Victoria Report of survey findings (PDF 1.42 MB), Bentleigh, Victoria.

Department of Primary Industries 2005a, Eastern Port Phillip Bay Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves Management Plan. Fisheries Victoria Management Report Series No. 33.

Department of Primary Industries 2005b, Flinders Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve Management Plan. Fisheries Victoria Management Report Series No. 32.

Ernst & Young 2015, Economic Study of Recreational Fishing in Victoria - Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body (PDF 761 KB), Ernst & Young, Australia.

Ford, J & Gilmour, P 2013, The state of recreational fishing in Victoria: a review of ecological sustainability and management options (PDF 1.41 MB), a report to the Victorian National Parks Association, Melbourne.

Green, C, Brown, P, Giri K, Bell, J & Conron, S 2012, Quantifying the recreational catch of southern bluefin tuna off the Victorian coast, Recreational Fishing Grants Program research report R09/10/03, Department of Primary Industries, Melbourne, Victoria.

Henry, GW & Lyle JM (eds) 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey. Final report to the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, NSW Fisheries final report series, no. 48, FRDC project no. 99/158, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.

Victorian Fisheries Authority 2019 Victorian Fisheries Authority Commercial Fish Production Information Bulletin 2019. Victorian Fisheries Authority, Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia.

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Last reviewed: 23 October 2020
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