About my region – Warrnambool and South West 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, fisheries, and forestry sectors in the Warrnambool and South West region and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Warrnambool and South West region of Victoria is located in the south–west corner of the state, and adjoins the South Australian border. The region comprises the six local government areas of Colac–Otway, Corangamite, Glenelg, Moyne, Southern Grampians and Warrnambool, part of Surf Coast, and the major regional centres of Colac, Hamilton and Warrnambool. The region covers a total area of around 26,380 square kilometres or 11.6 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 124,700 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Warrnambool and South West region occupies 18,100 square kilometres, or 69 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 4,000 square kilometres, or 15 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 14,700 square kilometres or 56 per cent of the Warrnambool and South West region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Warrnambool and South West region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Warrnambool and South West 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 November 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 68,500 people were employed in the Warrnambool and South West region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in Victoria and 17 per cent of all people employed in the Victorian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 13,700 people, representing 20 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 8,500 people, followed by retail trade with 7,100 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were accommodation and food services; manufacturing; and education and training.

Employment profile, Warrnambool and South West region, November 2019
Shows the number of people employed in the Warrnambool and South West 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 2019

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Warrnambool and South West region was $2.6 billion, which was 18 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15 billion).

The most important commodities in the Warrnambool and South West region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($877 million), followed by cattle and calves ($632 million) and sheep and lambs ($528 million). These commodities together contributed 78 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Value of agricultural production, Warrnambool and South West region, 2017–18
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 2019

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2017–18 there were 3,638 farms in the Warrnambool and South West region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 18 per cent of all farm businesses in Victoria.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Warrnambool and South West region, 2017–18
Industry classification Warrnambool and South West region Victoria
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region
to state total
%
Dairy Cattle Farming     1,060 29.1      3,547 29.9
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)        962 26.4      4,975 19.3
Sheep Farming (Specialised)        892 24.5      2,945 30.3
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming        426 11.7      1,286 33.2
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming        158 4.3      1,956 8.1
Other Crop Growing nec           74 2.0          120 61.7
Other           66 1.8      4,909 1.3
Total agriculture     3,638 100    19,739 18.4

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. Dairy cattle farms (1,060 farms) were the most common, accounting for 29 per cent of all farms in the Warrnambool and South West region, and 30 per cent of all dairy 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 19 per cent of farms in the Warrnambool and South 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 2017–18. In comparison, 44 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500,000 and accounted for an estimated 82 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Warrnambool and South West region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Warrnambool and South West region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Warrnambool and South West 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

The Warrnambool and South West region contains a range of seafood sectors, with the main production species caught in the area being rock lobster and abalone. A wide variety of finfish and eels are also harvested in the region and land based abalone farms are established in the south west part of the region. The seafood processing industry servicing the area is primarily located at Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland.

Recreational fishing is popular in this region. In the 2000 National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, the participation rate varied between 15 per cent and 22 per cent depending on the locality, much higher than the state average of 12.7 per cent (Henry & Lyle 2003). Residents fish mainly in coastal waters of western Victoria from Apollo Bay to the south Australian border. The Hopkins River and Glenelg River are also popular with many fishers. King George whiting, snapper, Australian salmon, black bream and mullet are the most common marine species targeted by fishers. Freshwater fishing is also popular for residents where redfin, trout, eels and yabbies are harvested. Overall, fishing from the shore is the most popular way that residents access the fishery, but boat fishing is significant, accounting for 42 per cent of the recreational and indigenous fishing effort in the region.

During the last ten years a seasonal fishery for southern bluefin tuna (SBT) has developed in the continental shelf waters of this region (Green et al. 2012). Private trailer boats and charter boats access this fishery during autumn and winter from the ports of Apollo Bay, Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland. Local residents make up about 45 per cent of the SBT fishers and almost all the others live in the Greater Melbourne and Geelong regions.

In 2015–16 the gross value of Victoria's fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild–catch) was $86 million, a decrease of 3 per cent ($2.4 million) from 2014–15. Victoria contributed 3 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 68 per cent ($57.8 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 32 per cent ($27.6 million).

Victoria's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by two main products—abalone and Southern rock lobster—which account for 34 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production in 2015–16. Over the last decade the real value of Victoria's wild-caught fisheries products has reduced by 42 per cent to $57.8 million in 2015–16.

The product for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade is wild—caught abalone, falling by 70 per cent to $19.7 million in 2015–16. This is largely attributable to the Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis disease which has significantly reduced abalone production in the Victorian wild–catch sector in recent years. 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.

Commonwealth fisheries active in the waters off Victoria include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) and the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors (supplies gummy shark or 'flake' to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. 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 2015–16 the volume of Victoria's aquaculture production was 2,670 tonnes. Salmonids, blue mussels and abalone accounted for 50 per cent, 29 per cent and 12 per cent respectively of this volume and 40 per cent, 12 per cent and 40 per cent respectively of the total value of Victorian aquaculture production in 2015–16.

In 2015–16, fisheries products exported from Victoria were valued at $193 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. Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore are the major destinations for Victorian fisheries exports, accounting for 53 per cent, 14 per cent and 7 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (6 per cent) and China (4 per cent).

Recreational fishing is popular in Victoria. In the national survey of recreational fishers undertaken in the early 2000s it was found that Victoria had approximately 550,000 recreational fishers that fished in the 12 months to May 2000, an estimated 12.7 per cent of Victoria's population (Henry & Lyle 2003). This includes gamefishing for species such as southern bluefin tuna (Green et al 2012). Recreational fishing also includes diving for Southern rock lobster, abalone, and scallops and hook and line fishing for a range of finfish species, such as snapper, King George whiting, black bream and flathead. Freshwater anglers target rainbow and brown trout, as well as native freshwater fish.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15 the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Warrnambool and South West region was about 186,800 hectares, comprised of 119,680 hectares of hardwood plantations and 67,150 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 455,000 hectares of native forests in the Warrnambool and South West region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Open (168,200 hectares), Eucalypt Medium Woodland (156,400 hectares) and Other native forest (45,100 hectares). The majority of the native forests were in conservation reserves (222,200 hectares), while 97,700 hectares were multiple use public forest available for timber production and 88,600 hectares were privately managed.

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 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.

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.

Last reviewed: 21 January 2020
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