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 Sydney region and the recent financial performance of the New South Wales broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The Greater Sydney region comprises 36 local government areas. It includes the major centres of Sydney, Richmond, Katoomba, Camden and the central coast. The region covers a total area of around 12,368 square kilometres or 1.5 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 5 million people (ABS 2017).
Agricultural land in the Greater Sydney region occupies 2,269 square kilometres, or 18 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 7,028 square kilometres, or 57 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is nature conservation, which occupies 6,174 square kilometres or 50 per cent of the Greater Sydney region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the May 2018 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 2.7 million people were employed in the Greater Sydney region. The region accounts for 68 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 15 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 324,300 people, followed by professional, scientific and technical services with 307,500 people, and retail trade with 265,900 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction; education and training; and manufacturing. The agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector employed 10,900 people, representing less than 1 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2016–17, the gross value of agricultural production in the Greater Sydney region was $828 million, which was 6 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales of $14.5 billion.
The Greater Sydney region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were poultry ($271 million), followed by nurseries ($140 million), and mushrooms ($92 million). These commodities together contributed 61 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2015–16 there were 1,199 farms in the Greater Sydney region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 5 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Greater Sydney region, 2015–16
Greater Sydney region
New South Wales
Number of farms
% of Region
Number of farms
Contribution of region to state total %
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)|| 337||28.1|| 607||55.4|
|Poultry Farming (Meat)|| 142||11.9|| 242||58.7|
|Horse Farming|| 84||7.0|| 726||11.6|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)|| 79||6.6|| 7,095||1.1|
|Nursery Production (Outdoors)|| 75||6.2|| 192||38.8|
|Turf Growing|| 65||5.4|| 105||62.1|
|Vegetable Growing (Under Cover)|| 57||4.7|| 95||59.8|
|Nursery Production (Under Cover)|| 51||4.2|| 110||46.0|
|Floriculture Production (Under Cover)|| 49||4.1|| 64||76.3|
|Floriculture Production (Outdoors)|| 41||3.4|| 100||40.8|
|Other|| 220||18.3|| 16,380||1.3|
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. Vegetable growing (outdoors) farms (337 farms) were the most common, accounting for 28 per cent of all farms in the Greater Sydney region, and 55 per cent of all outdoor vegetable growing 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 33 per cent of farms in the Greater Sydney 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 2015–16. In comparison, 21 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 Sydney region in 2015–16.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in
New South Wales.
Sydney is one of the key commercial fishing ports and it is the second largest port for the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery after Mooloolaba. The Sydney Fish Markets is Australia's largest seafood market. The Commonwealth Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery operate in the waters off NSW targeting albacore, bigeye, and yellowfin tuna as well as swordfish and striped marlin. The Commonwealth trawl sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark fishery provides a range of finfish for sale through the Sydney Fish Markets, including blue grenadier, tiger flathead, and silver warehou. The state fisheries include the fish trawling sector targeting silver trevally, tiger flathead, southern calamari, school whiting, and a number of shark and ray species. The Ocean Prawn Trawl Fishery operates along the entire coast of NSW harvesting school and eastern king prawns and school whiting. The Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery harvests school and eastern king prawns in the Hawkesbury River. Another state fishery that operates in the region is the Ocean Trap and Line targeting a number of finfish species, including: snapper, yellowtail kingfish, leatherjackets, bonito, and silver trevally. Aquaculture production in this area includes oysters, barramundi, and ornamental fish species. A large number of recreational fishers fish in the Greater Sydney area. Species commonly targeted in the area include yellowfin bream, dusky flathead, yellowtail, blue swimmer crab, squid, and southern calamari (Steffe & Murphy 2011). The Tuggerah and Budgewoi lakes are also popular fishing areas for bream, flathead, and luderick.
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).
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.