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About my region – Coffs Harbour - Grafton New South Wales

​​​​​​​​​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 Coffs Harbour - Grafton region and the recent financial performance of the New South Wales broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.​

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Regional overview

The Coffs Harbour - Grafton region of New South Wales is located on the northern coast of the state, extending inland from the coast to the Great Dividing Range. The region includes the towns of Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Yamba, and Dorrigo and comprises the three local government areas of Bellingen, Clarence Valley, and Coffs Harbour. It also includes small parts of Nambucca and Richmond Valley local government areas. The region covers a total area of around 13,200 square kilometres or 2 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 138,900 people (ABS 2017).

Agricultural land in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region occupies 6,125 square kilometres, or 46 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 3,909 square kilometres, or 30 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation, which occupies 3,462 square kilometres or 26 per cent of the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region.

Broad land use in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton 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 ABARES 2017

Employment

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the May 2018 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 60,600 people were employed in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 5 per cent of all people employed in the New South Wales agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Construction was the largest employment sector with 9,100 people, followed by health care and social assistance with 8,400 people, and retail trade with 8,199 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were accommodation and food services; professional, scientific and technical services; and public administration and safety. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 3,400 people, representing 6 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Coffs Harbour - Grafton region, May 2018
Shows the number of people employed in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton 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 2018

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2016–17, the gross value of agricultural production in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region was $206 million, which was 1 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($14.5 billion).

The Coffs Harbour - Grafton region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were cattle and calves ($56 million), followed by sugarcane ($30 million) and milk ($10 million). These commodities together contributed 46 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. Additionally, in 2016–17 the Coffs Harbour – Grafton region accounted for 40 per cent ($1.8 million) of the total value of the state's banana production.

Value of agricultural production, Coffs Harbour - Grafton region, 2016–17
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous two 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 2018

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2015–16 there were 796 farms in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 3 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Coffs Harbour - Grafton region, 2015–16
Industry classificationCoffs Harbour - Grafton regionNew South Wales
Number of farms% of RegionNumber of farmsContribution of region to state total %
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)34943.97,0954.9
Sugar Cane Growing14518.234142.4
Berry Fruit Growing10112.713575.3
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing465.76587.0
Dairy Cattle Farming455.78685.2
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)283.56074.6
Horse Farming182.27262.4
Other658.115,2870.3
Total agriculture 796 100 25,716 3.1

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 2017

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (349 farms) were the most common, accounting for 44 per cent of all farms in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region, and 5 per cent of all beef cattle farms in New South Wales.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 44 per cent of farms in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 10 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2015–16. In comparison, 7 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 43 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region in 2015–16.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Coffs Harbour - Grafton region, 2015–16
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Note: Only farms with an EVAO of $50,000 or more in 2015–16 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 2017

Farm financial performance

Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in New South Wales.

Fisheries sector

The Coffs Harbour - Grafton region is a key area for commercial fishing in New South Wales. The region also contains the Clarence River estuary, and is home to the Clarence River Fisherman's Cooperative. Fishers in the area target a range of prawn species, including school and king prawns, ocean bugs and a range of finfish including snapper, bream, flathead, shark, emperor, salmon, and cod. A key Commonwealth fishery that operates in the region is the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery that targes albacore tuna, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna, broadbill swordfish, and striped marlin. The New South Wales state fisheries operating in the region include the Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery and the Ocean Prawn Trawl Fishery, targeting school prawns, eastern king prawns, and school whiting and the Ocean Trap and Line Fishery targeting finfish. The aquaculture in the region includes oysters and prawns.

The region is also popular for recreational fishing, with target species including: bream, sand whiting, dusky flathead, luderick, tarwhine, and mud crabs, and large pelagic species such as tuna and marlin. Gamefishing is also a popular recreational pursuit in the region, targeting tuna, marlin, and billfish.

In 2015–16 the gross value of New South Wales fisheries production was estimated to be around $156 million, increasing by 4 per cent ($6 million) from 2014–15. New South Wales contributed 5 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 58 per cent ($91 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 42 per cent ($65 million).

New South Wales wild-catch fisheries provide a range of fisheries products. In 2015–16, finfish species contributed 47 per cent of the wild-catch production, valued at $43 million. The main finfish species landed were sea mullet, with a gross value of production of $9.6 million, followed by black and yellowfin bream ($3.6 million), school whiting ($2.8 million), snapper ($2.0 million), and sand whiting ($1.5 million). Prawns contributed 19 per cent of the total value of wild-catch fisheries with a value of $17.3 million, with other important crustacean groups being eastern rock lobster (13 per cent; $11.8 million), and crabs (10 per cent; $9.5 million).

In 2015–16 the value of New South Wales aquaculture production is estimated to have increased by 7 per cent ($4.2 million) to $65 million. Oyster production makes the greatest contribution to New South Wales aquaculture production, accounting for 68 per cent of production by value, worth $44.3 million. Prawns ($6.0 million) and finfish aquaculture species, including silver perch ($3 million), trout ($2.3 million), and barramundi ($1.0 million) make up most of the remaining aquaculture production.
Commonwealth fisheries active in New South Wales include the Small Pelagic Fishery, the Eastern Tuna and Billfish fishery (mainly supplying export markets with tuna), and the Commonwealth trawl sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark fishery.

In 2015–16, New South Wales fisheries product exports were valued at $23.3 million. The main export products include live and fresh, chilled or frozen fish, rock lobster, and abalone. Japan and Vietnam, are the major destinations for New South Wales fisheries exports, accounting for 45 per cent and 13 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include New Zealand (9 per cent), Spain (5 per cent), and Taiwan (5 per cent).

The New South Wales coast line is an important recreational fishing area, with a multitude of inlets and estuaries from which to fish. Being a tourism precinct, the region offers a number of recreational fishing opportunities, with the value of this activity to the regional economy likely to be significant. There are also a range of game fishing tournaments throughout the year, including in the Bermagui and Port Stephens area, targeting tuna and marlin species. New South Wales also contains a number of recreational only fishing areas, especially in the far south coast of New South Wales, a popular destination for both marine and freshwater recreational fishers. A large number of recreational fishers also fish in the Greater Sydney area, stretching from Newcastle to the Illawarra area, and comprising the city areas of Newcastle, Sydney, and Wollongong. Species commonly targeted in the area include yellowfin bream, dusky flathead, yellowtail, blue swimmer crab, squid, and southern calamari (Steffe & Murphy 2011).

Forestry sector

In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Coffs Harbour – Grafton region was 30,200 hectares, comprised of 27,700 hectares of hardwood plantations and 2,400 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species planted are Dunn's white gum (Eucalyptus dunnii), blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis), flooded gum (Eucalyptus grandis) and Sydney blue gum (Eucalyptus saligna). The main softwood species planted are slash pine (Pinus elliottii) and Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea).

In 2011, there were 998,300 hectares of native forests in the Coffs Harbour – Grafton region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt tall open (450,600 hectares), Eucalypt medium open (304,100 hectares) and Rainforest (94,700 hectares) forest types. There were 420,600 hectares of the native forests privately owned, 262,100 hectares were multiple-use public forest available for timber production and 188,000 hectares were in nature conservation reserves. Major timber processing industries are located at Koolkhan, Thora, and Glenreagh.

In 2015–16, the total plantation area in New South Wales was 394,400 hectares, comprised of 87,100 hectares of hardwood plantations, 307,100 hectares of softwood plantations and 100 hectares of other plantations.

In 2015–16, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in New South Wales was 876,000 cubic metres valued at $110 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 63,000 cubic metres valued at $5 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 4.7 million cubic metres valued at $344 million. These values include both New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Total sales and service income in the New South Wales forest and wood product industry was estimated at $8.9 billion in 2015–16. The income was generated from the sale of wood products was $4.6 billion, and the income generated from the sale of paper and paper products was $4.3 billion.

In 2016, the New South Wales forestry sector employed 17,571 workers (0.5 per cent of the total employed workforce in New South Wales) compared with 22,250 (0.7 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.

Area of native forest, by tenure, Coffs Harbour - Grafton region
Shows areas of native forest by tenure in the Coffs Harbour - Grafton region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
Source: ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013

References

ABS 2017, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2016, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 19 September 2017.

Steffe, AS & Murphy, JJ 2011, Recreational fishing surveys in the Greater Sydney Region. Fisheries final report series, no. 131, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Cronulla, New South Wales.

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Last reviewed:
08 Nov 2018