About my region – Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 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 and fisheries sectors in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy, vegetable, and sugarcane industries.

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Regional overview

The Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region of New South Wales is located in the urbanised coastal area around the city of Newcastle, north of Sydney. The region includes the local government areas of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, and small parts of the Port Stephens and Maitland local government areas to the north. The region covers a total area of around 870 square kilometres or less than 1 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 342,600 people (ABS, 2011).

Agricultural land in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region occupies 286 square kilometres, or 33 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 207 square kilometres, or 24 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation uses, which occupies 204 square kilometres or 24 per cent of the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region.

Broad land use in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 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: Land use of Australia 2010–2011 ABARES 2016

Employment

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 189,400 people were employed in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region. The region accounts for 5 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and less than 1 per cent of all people employed in the New South Wales agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 33,600 people, followed by construction with 19,300 people, and accommodation and food services with 17,400 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were retail trade, education and training, and manufacturing. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 300 people, representing less than 1 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region, February 2017
Shows the number of people employed in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 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 2017

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2014–15, the gross value of agricultural production in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region was $2.1 billion, which was 18 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($12.1 billion).

The Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 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 ($679 million), followed by wheat ($318 million) and cotton ($272 million). These commodities together contributed 60 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2014–15 the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region accounted for 88 per cent ($158,000) of the total value of the state's sorghum production.

Value of agricultural production, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region, 2014–15
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 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 2016

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 51 farms in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains less than 1 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region, 2014–15

Industry classification

Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region

New South Wales

Number of farms

% of Region

Number of farms

Contribution of region to state total %

Horse Farming

24

46.4

1,405

1.7

Poultry Farming (Eggs)

9

18.0

101

9.2

Nursery Production (Outdoors)

7

14.0

170

4.2

Other

11

21.6

33,777

0.0

Total agriculture

51

100

35,453

0.1

Note: Estimated value of agricultural operations $5,000 or more. Industries that constitute less than 1 per cent of the region's industry are not shown
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Horse farms (24 farms) were the most common, accounting for 46 per cent of all farms in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region, and 2 per cent of all horse 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. Most farms in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region are small in terms of EVAO. Around 66 per cent of farms in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region had an EVAO of less than $50,000. These farms accounted for only 5 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2014–15. In comparison, 8 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 and accounted for an estimated 84 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region in 2014–15.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region, 2014–15
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Farm financial performance

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

Fisheries sector

Major ports for commercial fishing in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region include Newcastle and Swansea. Species caught by commercial fishers in the area include prawns, eastern rocklobster, bugs, a range of finfish, and blue swimmer crabs. Recreational fishing occurs in the coastal waters and also in Lake Macquarie. Common species caught by recreational fishers are whiting, luderick, blue swimmer crab, yellowfin bream, dusky flathead, and tailor.

In 2014–15 the gross value of New South Wales fisheries production was estimated to be around $147 million, increasing by 2 per cent ($2 million) from 2012314. New South Wales contributed 5 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2014–15. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 59 per cent ($87 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 41 per cent ($61 million).

New South Wales wild-catch fisheries provide a range of fisheries products. In 2014–15, finfish species contributed 46 per cent of the wild-catch production, valued at $40 million. The main finfish species landed were sea mullet, with a gross value of production of $8.0 million, followed by black and yellowfin bream ($3.5 million), school whiting ($2.6 million), snapper ($1.7 million), and sand whiting ($1.6 million). Prawns contributed 22 per cent of the total value of wild-catch fisheries with a value of $19.3 million, with other important crustacean groups being eastern rocklobster (13 per cent; $11.4 million), and crabs (9 per cent; $7.6 million).

In 2014–15 the value of New South Wales aquaculture production is estimated to have increased by 14 per cent ($7.3 million) to $61 million. Oyster production makes the greatest contribution to New South Wales aquaculture production, accounting for 67 per cent of production by value, worth $40.6 million. Prawns ($5.1 million) and finfish aquaculture species, including silver perch ($3 million), trout ($2.8 million), and barramundi ($0.9 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 2014–15, New South Wales fisheries product exports were valued at $18.6 million. The main export products include live and fresh, chilled or frozen fish, rocklobster, and abalone. Japan and New Zealand, are the major destinations for New South Wales fisheries exports, accounting for 33 per cent and 15 per cent of the total value of exports in 2014–15, respectively. Other major export destinations include Taiwan (14 per cent), Vietnam (12 per cent), and Italy (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 (NSWDPI 2013). 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).

References

ABS 2011, Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

NSWDPI (New South Wales Department of Primary Industries) 2013, Fishing Guides, NSW Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales.

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

Last reviewed:
18 May 2017