About my region – Bunbury Western Australia

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 Bunbury region and the recent Western Australia financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Bunbury region of Western Australia is located in the south-west part of the state, south of Perth. The region includes the major regional centres of Bunbury, Margaret River and Manjimup and comprises the 13 local government areas of Augusta—Margaret River, Boyup Brook, Bridgetown—Greenbushes, Bunbury, Busselton, Capel, Collie, Dardanup, Donnybrook—Balingup, Harvey, Manjimup, Nannup and Waroona. The region covers a total area of around 24,700 square kilometres or 1 per cent of Western Australia and is home to approximately 181,100 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Bunbury region occupies 7,100 square kilometres, or 29 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 7,600 square kilometres, or 31 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is production forestry, which occupies 7,800 square kilometres or 31 per cent of the Bunbury region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Bunbury region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Bunbury 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 94,000 people were employed in the Bunbury region. The region accounts for 7 per cent of total employment in Western Australia and 17 per cent of all people employed in the Western Australian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Retail trade was the largest employment sector with 13,300 people, followed by construction with 10,500 people, and mining with 10,300 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were health care and social assistance; education and training; and accommodation and food services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 5,800 people, representing 6 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Bunbury region, November 2019
employment-profile-bunbury-small.png
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 Bunbury region was $890 million, which was 10 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Western Australia ($8.6 billion).

The Bunbury region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($176 million), followed by vegetables ($153 million) and avocados ($115 million). These commodities together contributed 50 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2017–18 the most important vegetables in the region based on gross value of production were potatoes ($39 million), followed by carrots ($29 million) and onions ($27 million).

Value of agricultural production, Bunbury region, 201718
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 1,150 farms in the Bunbury region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 16 per cent of all farm businesses in Western Australia.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Bunbury region, 2017–18
Industry classification Bunbury region Western Australia
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region
to state total
%
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)        372 32.4      1,045 35.6
Grape Growing        138 12.0          216 64.0
Dairy Cattle Farming        114 9.9          133 85.8
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)           99 8.6          343 29.0
Sheep Farming (Specialised)           78 6.8          626 12.5
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming           60 5.2      1,932 3.1
Apple and Pear Growing           47 4.0            65 71.3
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing           44 3.8            86 51.2
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming           42 3.7          240 17.7
Horse Farming           29 2.6          126 23.3
Stone Fruit Growing           20 1.7            74 26.7
Other Crop Growing nec           19 1.7            42 45.2
Beef Cattle Feedlots (Specialised)           17 1.5            28 61.7
Citrus Fruit Growing           12 1.1            35 35.6
Other           58 5.1      2,298 2.5
Total agriculture     1,150 100      7,290 15.8

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. Beef cattle farms (372 farms) were the most common, accounting for 32 per cent of all farms in the Bunbury region, and 36 per cent of all beef cattle farms in Western Australia.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 31 per cent of farms in the Bunbury 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, 13 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 54 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Bunbury region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Bunbury region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Bunbury 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 Western Australia.

Fisheries sector

The Bunbury region straddles the West and South Coast marine areas of Western Australia. The western part of the coast line contains the important Geographe Bay area, which contributes to Western Australia's annual harvest of saucer scallops. This coastal area also serves Western Australia's western and demersal gillnet and longline fishery, which lands a range of shark species. Estuarine coastal fisheries contribute a range of finfish species including pilchard, Australian herring, black bream, cobbler, western Australian salmon, scaley mackerel, white bait, southern garfish. Crustacean species are also caught in the area, including southern rock lobster and blue swimmer crabs. A significant portion of West Australia's pilchard and greenlip and brown lip abalone catch is processed in this region. There are few aquaculture activities in the Bunbury region.

The Bunbury region has a higher participation rate than the state average for recreational fishing, only exceeded by the Pilbara and Kimberley in the 2000 National Recreational Fishing Survey (Henry and Lyle 2003). Fishing for finfish in inshore and estuarine waters is popular from both the shore and boats. The main species caught are whiting, Australian herring, tailor and silver trevally. Prawns and blue swimmer crabs are also caught by recreational fishers using nets in the local estuaries.

In 2015–16, the gross value of Western Australian fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild–catch) was $593.3 million, an increase of 4 per cent ($23.7 million) from 2014–15. Western Australia accounted for 20 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for around 85 per cent ($504.1 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 15 per cent ($89.2 million).

Western Australia's wild–catch sector is dominated by the production of western rock lobster, which accounted for around 78 per cent of the state's total wild–catch production in 2015–16. Other major wild–catch seafood products include prawns (9 per cent) and crabs (2 per cent). Over the past decade the real value of Western Australian wild–caught fisheries is estimated to have declined by 6 per cent. The decline in value was mostly driven by a 39 per cent decline in total production volume.

The product for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade is scallops, falling by 90 per cent to $3 million in 2014–15. This was the result of a 94 per cent reduction in the volume caught. A large proportion of rock lobster production is exported, mostly to Hong Kong. Exchange rate movements have a significant effect on the value of rock lobster exports and, in turn, production.

Prawns also account for a significant proportion of Western Australian wild–catch production, accounting for an estimated 15 per cent and 8 per cent of the total volume and value, respectively, of wild–catch production in 2014–15. The value of prawn production increased by 4 per cent to $37.3 million in 2014–15. This mostly reflects a 2 per cent increase in average unit prices.

The real value of Western Australian aquaculture has declined over the past decade by 46 per cent to $89.2 million in 2015–16. Most of the decline can be attributed to a reduction in the value of pearl oyster production.

The value of aquaculture production in 2015–16 increased by 10 per cent ($8 million) to $89.2 million. This increase was mainly the result of a $10.5 million rise (15 per cent) in the value of pearl production. Pearls are the most valuable aquaculture product in the state and contributed around 88 per cent ($78.4 million) of aquaculture production value in 2015–16. The edible seafood component of Western Australia's aquaculture sector accounted for 12 per cent ($10.8 million) of total aquaculture production value in 2015–16.

In 2015–16, Western Australia's seafood product exports were valued at $504.9 million, representing a 4 per cent increase in value compared with 2014–15. The main export seafood product is western rock lobster, which accounted for 90 per cent of the state's exports of seafood in 2015–16. Other major export seafood products include prawns (5 per cent) and abalone (3 per cent). Vietnam and Hong Kong are the major destinations for Western Australia fisheries exports, accounting for 72 per cent and 13 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (5 per cent) and United States (4 per cent).

Recreational fishing is a popular activity in Western Australia, with an estimated 752,000 people fishing recreationally in the state in 2015–16 (Department of Fisheries 2016). Most of the activity is the West Coast bioregion, around Perth and the surrounding area. Most boat-based recreational fishing effort occurred in coastal nearshore (60 per cent), inshore demersal (25 per cent) and estuary habitats (11 per cent), and the remainder in pelagic (2 per cent), offshore demersal (1 per cent) and freshwater (1 per cent). The key species caught by recreational fishers include School Whiting, Australian Herring, Pink Snapper, West Australian Dhufish, Silver Trevally, Black Bream, King George Whiting, Western King Wrasse, Breaksea Cod and Baldchin Groper (Ryan et al. 2017).

Forestry sector

In 2014–15 the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Bunbury region was about 105,800 hectares, comprised of 60,780 hectares of hardwood plantations and 45,010 hectares of softwood plantations. In the Bunbury region, the main hardwood plantation species is Tasmanian blue gum and other eucalyptus spp. The main softwood plantation species are radiata pine, maritime pine and other hard pines.

In 2016 there were about 1.6 million hectares of native forests in the Bunbury region, comprised mainly of eucalypt medium (1.3 million hectares), eucalypt tall (199,200 hectares) and eucalypt low (36,200 hectares). The majority of the native forests were multiple use public forest available for timber production (757,900 hectares), while 571,600 hectares were in conservation reserves and 205,000 hectares were on privately managed.

Western Australia state data

In 2017–18, the total plantation area in Western Australia was 361,700 hectares, comprised of 253,500 hectares of hardwood plantations and 99,700 hectares of softwood plantations.

In 2016, Western Australia had 28 sawmills (including 2 softwood sawmills), 4 post and pole processors and 2 wood based panel processors.

In 2016, there were 20.4 million hectares of native forests in Western Australia, comprised mainly of eucalypt medium (8.6 million hectares), eucalypt mallee (6.3 million hectares) and acacia (3.2 million hectares).

In 2017–18, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Western Australia was 366 thousand cubic metres, valued at $26.9 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in Western Australia was 3.3 million cubic metres, valued at $268.6 million. The volume of plantation softwood logs harvested in Western Australia was 849 thousand cubic metres, valued at $58.8 million.

In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Western Australia was $1.1 billion.  Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2017–18.

In 2016, the Western Australia forestry sector employed 3,746 workers (0.3 per cent) of the total employed workforce in Western Australia) compared with 5,283 (0.5 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes in the following industries: 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.

Department of Fisheries 2016, Annual Report to Parliament 2015/16, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia. 225 pp.

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.

Ryan, KL, Hall, NG, Lai EK, Smallwood, CB, Taylor, SM & Wise, BS 2017, Statewide survey of boat-based recreational fishing in Western Australia 2015/16. Fisheries Research Report No. 287, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia. 205pp.

Last reviewed: 11 February 2020
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