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 Darwin region and the recent financial performance of the Northern Territory beef industry.
The Greater Darwin region of the Northern Territory comprises the three local government areas of Darwin, Litchfield, and Palmerston and the city of Darwin (refer to land use map below). The region covers a total area of around 3,164 square kilometres, or less than 0.25 per cent of the Northern Territory's total area, and is home to approximately 120,600 people (ABS 2011).
Agricultural land in the Greater Darwin region occupies 560 square kilometres, or 18 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 2,150 square kilometres, or 69 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation, which occupies 423 square kilometres or 14 per cent of the Greater Darwin region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 81,800 people were employed in the Greater Darwin region. The Greater Darwin region accounts for 60 per cent of total employment in Northern Territory and 72 per cent of all people employed in the Northern Territory agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Public administration and safety was the largest employment sector with 11,700 people, followed by construction with 9,800 people and health care and social assistance with 8,600 people. Other important employment sectors in the territory were retail trade, education and training, and accommodation and food services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 1,300 people, representing 2 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2014–15, the gross value of agricultural production in the Darwin region was $55 million, which was 7 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Northern Territory ($835 million).
The Darwin region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the Darwin region (refer to figure below) based on the gross value of agricultural production were other livestock for meat ($21 million), followed by mangoes ($12 million) and melons ($10 million). These commodities together contributed 77 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2014–15 the Darwin region accounted for 91 per cent ($4 million) of the total value of the state's nursery production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 133 farms in the Darwin region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 35 per cent of all farm businesses in Northern Territory.
Number of farms, by industry classification, 2014–15
|Industry classification||Greater Darwin region||Northern Territory|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing||79||59.2||107||73.3|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||26||19.6||49||53.0|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||8||5.7||176||4.3|
|Floriculture Production (Outdoors)||6||4.3||6||100|
|Nursery Production (Outdoors)||3||2.4||3||100|
|Nursery Production (Under Cover)||3||2.0||3||100|
|Total agriculture ||133 ||100 ||375 ||35.4|
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. Other fruit and tree nut farms (79) were the most common, accounting for 59 per cent of all farms in the Greater Darwin region, and 73 per cent of all fruit and tree nut farms in the Northern Territory.
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 Darwin region had an EVAO of less than $50,000 (refer to figure below). These farms accounted for only 3 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2014–15. In comparison, 14 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500,000 and accounted for an estimated 64 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Greater Darwin region in 2014–15.
Farm financial performance
In 2014–15 the gross value of Northern Territory managed fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild-catch) was $55.2 million, an increase of 21 per cent ($10 million) from 2013–14. The Northern Territory contributed 2 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2014–15. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 56 per cent ($31 million) of the territory's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 44 per cent ($24 million).
The Northern Territory's wild-catch fisheries sector provides a range of fisheries products. The highest contribution is from crabs (primarily mud crabs), which account for 15 per cent of the total value of wild-catch fisheries with a value of $4.6 million. Other important wild-catch fisheries products are gold band snapper (12 per cent; $3.8 million), mackerel (13 per cent; $4 million) and barramundi (8 per cent; $2.4 million). Over the past decade the value of the Northern Territory's wild-catch fisheries products has decreased by 27 per cent to $31 million in 2014–15. The products for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade are shark and sea perch, falling by $10 million and $4 million respectively between 2004–05 and 2014–15. In 2014–15 the value of the Northern Territory's aquaculture production is estimated to have increased by 59 per cent from $15 million in 2013–14 to $24 million in 2014–15.
The Commonwealth managed Northern Prawn Fishery was the most valuable fishery in the Northern Territory, with a gross value of production in 2014–15 of $107 million, across the entire fishery (some of which is landed in Queensland). In 2014–15, the gross value of production for the Commonwealth Northern Prawn Fishery decreased by 7 per cent because of a 15 per cent increase in volume. Darwin is a major landing site for this fishery.
In 2014–15, the Northern Territory's seafood product exports were valued at around $0.25 million by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This amount will not include Northern Territory production that is exported from ports elsewhere in Australia. The main export products include live and fresh, chilled or frozen fish, and crabs, with Japan and China being the main export markets. The main non-edible fisheries product produced for the export market in the Northern Territory was pearls.
It is estimated that Northern Territory residents and visitors spend nearly $51 million annually on recreational fishing, with the purchase of vessels and vehicles and their associated running costs making up the bulk of the expenditure (West et al 2012). According to the most recent survey of recreational fishing activity in the Northern Territory (West et al 2012), the main target fish species are barramundi, followed by golden snapper, small bait fish, catfish, saddletail and crimson snapper, and mullet. Mud crabs dominate the crustacean catch, followed by cherabin, the giant freshwater prawn.
The Northern Territory also has a significant indigenous customary fish sector. The 2000–01 National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey (NRIFS) aimed to better understand the level of fishing undertaken by the Indigenous fishing sector (Henry & Lyle 2003). The survey collected fisheries catch statistics from Indigenous people aged five years and older, living in coastal communities across the north of Australia, from Broome in Western Australia to Cairns in Queensland (excluding those living in the Torres Strait). The survey showed that an estimated 37,000 Indigenous people living in the north of Australia fished at least once during the survey year. This was equivalent to 92 per cent of the Indigenous population in the region.
The survey indicated that Indigenous fishers in northern Australia harvested approximately 900,000 finfish, 1 million molluscs, 660,000 prawns and yabbies, 180,000 crabs and rock lobsters and smaller numbers of other species during 2000–01. The most prominent finfish species groups were mullet, catfish, tropical snapper, bream and barramundi. The most prominent non–finfish species groups were mussels, freshwater prawn, mud crabs, prawns and oysters.
ABS 2011, Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.
Henry, G.W. & Lyle, J.M. 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, FRDC Project No. 99/158.
West, L. D., Lyle, J. M., Matthews, S. R., Stark, K. E. & Steffe, A. S. 2012, Survey of Recreational Fishing in the Northern Territory, 2009–10. Northern Territory Government, Australia. Fishery Report No. 109