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 Launceston and North East region and the recent financial performance of the Tasmanian broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The Launceston and North East region of Tasmania is located in the north–east of the state and includes Flinders Island.
The region comprises the eight local government areas of Break O'Day, Dorset, Flinders, George Town, Launceston, Meander Valley, Northern Midlands and West Tamar, and the regional centres of Launceston, Campbell Town and Scottsdale. The region covers a total area of around 19,975 square kilometres or 29.2 per cent of Tasmania's total area and is home to approximately 137,600 people (ABS 2011).
Agricultural land in the Launceston and North East region occupies 7,900 square kilometres, or 40 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 6,950 square kilometres, or 35 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 4,500 square kilometres or 23 per cent of the Launceston and North East region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 64,900 people were employed in the Launceston and North East region. The region accounts for 27 per cent of total employment in Tasmania and 28 per cent of all people employed in the Tasmanian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 9,900 people, followed by retail trade with 6,900 people, and accommodation and food services with 5,700 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were, education and training; manufacturing and construction. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 3,600 people, representing 6 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2014–15, the gross value of agricultural production in the Launceston and North East region was $588 million, which was 41 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Tasmania ($1.4 billion).
The Launceston and North East region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($154 million), followed by cattle and calves ($114 million) and potatoes ($78 million). These commodities together contributed 59 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.
In 2014–15 the Launceston and North East region accounted for 57 per cent ($12 million) of the total value of Tasmania's wine grape production and 75 per cent of the total value of the other broadacre crops in Tasmania (oilseed poppies mainly).
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 1,190 farms in the Launceston and North East region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 38 per cent of all farm businesses in Tasmania.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Launceston and North East region, 2014–15
Launceston and North East region
Number of farms
% of Region
Number of farms
Contribution of region
to state total
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)
Dairy Cattle Farming
Sheep Farming (Specialised)
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming
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. Beef cattle farms (470 farms) were the most common, accounting for 40 per cent of all farms in the Launceston and North East region, and 39 per cent of all beef cattle farms in Tasmania.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 47 per cent of farms in the Launceston and North East region had an EVAO of less than $50,000. These farms accounted for only 3 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2014–15. In comparison, 9 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 56 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Launceston and North East region in 2014–15.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in Tasmania.
The Launceston and North East region of Tasmania is predominantly a wild–catch production area for shellfish, in particular abalone, scallop, and finfish. Georges Bay and Ansons Bay are key shellfish producing areas, including cockles, clams and some aquaculture oysters. Wild-caught greenlip and blacklip abalone production also occurs in the area as these species are abundant along the north coast toward Musselroe Point. The ports of Bridport and St. Helens are important landing sites for scallop fishers operating in both Commonwealth and Tasmanian fisheries.
In 2014–15 the gross value of Tasmanian fisheries production is estimated to be around $825 million, an increase of 12 per cent ($89 million) from 2013–14. Tasmania contributed 30 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2014–15. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 21 per cent ($175.3 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 79 per cent ($650 million).
Tasmania's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by two main products, abalone and southern rock lobster, which account for 46 per cent and 51 per cent, respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production in 2014–15. Over the past decade the real value of Tasmania's wild–caught fisheries products has reduced by 19 per cent to $175.3 million 2014–15. The decline in value was driven by 61 per cent decline in the total volume of wild–catch fisheries products.
The product for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade is abalone (both wild–caught and aquaculture), falling by 43 per cent to $80 million in 2014–15. This was the result of a 29 per cent reduction in volume. A large proportion of abalone is exported, mostly to Hong Kong, China and Japan. Exchange rate movements have a significant effect on the value of abalone exports and, in turn, production.
Southern rock lobster accounts for a significant proportion of Tasmanian wild–catch production, accounting for 25 per cent and 51 per cent of the total volume and value, respectively, of wild–catch production in 2014–15. The value of Southern rock lobster exports increased by 7 per cent in 2014–15, primarily reflecting a 14 per cent increase in the export unit price from Tasmania.
Commonwealth fisheries active in the Tasmania region include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) and the Shark Gillnet, Hook and Trap Sector (supplies gummy shark or 'flake' to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery and Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) also operate in the waters off Tasmania.
The importance of aquaculture in Tasmanian fisheries production increased over the past decade. Over the past decade the real value of aquaculture production tripled reaching $559 million in 2013–14, representing around 76 per cent of the state's fisheries production. Most of the growth in aquaculture production is attributed to increases in the output of farmed salmonid species, in particular Atlantic salmon.
In 2010–11, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Launceston and North East region was approximately 127,300 hectares, comprised of approximately 89,000 hectares of hardwood plantations, 36,000 hectares of softwood plantations and 2,300 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted are blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and shining gum (E.nitens), and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were approximately 919,200 hectares of native forests in the Launceston and North East region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium woodland (446,400 hectares), Eucalypt tall open (176,500 hectares) and Eucalypt tall woodland (107,900 hectares) forest types. The majority of the native forests are privately managed (317,400 hectares), while 287,900 hectares are multiple-use public forest available for timber production and 174,600 hectares are in nature conservation reserves. The region hosts a number of timber processing industries, mostly in the Tamar Valley including Bell Bay and Launceston.
In 2013–14, the total plantation area in Tasmania was approximately 310,700 hectares, comprised of approximately 235,600 hectares of hardwood plantations and 75,100 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species planted are blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens), and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2014–15, the volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 1.3 million cubic metres valued at $95 million. The volume of native hardwood logs harvested was 1.1 million cubic metres valued at $73 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 1.1 million cubic metres valued at $63 million.
Sales and service income in the Tasmanian wood product industry was estimated at approximately $335 million in 2013–14.
In 2011, the Tasmanian forestry sector employed 3,526 workers (1.7 per cent of the total employed workforce in Tasmania) compared with 5,390 (2.7 per cent) in 2006 (number of people employed includes forestry support services and timber wholesaling).
Note: State based income from the paper and paper products industry is subject to ABS confidentiality requirements for some states. The two major wood product exports, woodchips and paper and paperboard are also subject to state based confidentiality requirements hence they have been excluded.
Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.