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About my region – Launceston and North East Tasmania

​​​​​​​​​​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.

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​​​​​​​​Regional overview

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 143,500 people (ABS 2017).

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.

Broad land use in the Launceston and North East region
Shows a map of 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).
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 68,500 people were employed in the Launceston and North East region. The region accounts for 28 per cent of total employment in Tasmania and 31 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 10,600 people, followed by retail trade with 8,200 people, and construction with 6,300 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were, education and training; accommodation and food services; and manufacturing. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 4,100 people, representing 6 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Launceston and North East region, May 2018
Shows a map 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.
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 Launceston and North East region was $600 million, which was 41 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Tasmania ($1.5 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 cattle and calves ($134 million), milk ($124 million) and wool ($52 million). These commodities together contributed 52 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

In 2016–17 the Launceston and North East region accounted for 94 per cent ($2 million) of the total value of Tasmania's canola production and 86 per cent ($1 million) of the total value of Tasmania's pears production.

Value of agricultural production, Launceston and North East region, 2016–17
Shows a map of 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. This map is discussed in the above paragraph.

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 914 farms in the Launceston and North East region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 40 per cent of all farm businesses in Tasmania.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Launceston and North East region, 2015–16
Industry classificationLaunceston and North East regionTasmania
Number of farms% of RegionNumber of farmsContribution of region
to state total
%
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised) 246 26.9 595 41.3
Dairy Cattle Farming 173 18.9 448 38.6
Sheep Farming (Specialised) 139 15.2 333 41.7
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming 108 11.8 181 59.3
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors) 97 10.6 277 34.9
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming 27 3.0 49 54.8
Grape Growing 26 2.8 62 42.1
Other Crop Growing nec22 2.4 53 41.2
Other77 8.5 300 25.8
Total agriculture 914 100 2,298 39.8

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. nec Not elsewhere classified.
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 (246 farms) were the most common, accounting for 27 per cent of all farms in the Launceston and North East region, and 41 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 29 per cent of farms in the Launceston and North East 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, 19 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 60 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Launceston and North East region in 2015–16.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Launceston and North East region, 2015–16
Shows a map of 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. This map is discussed in the above 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, dairy and vegetable farms in Tasmania.

Fisheries sector

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.

Tasmania has a range of wild–catch finfish, crustacean, mollusc and aquaculture fisheries production. Hobart is the main fishing port in Tasmania servicing fishers across a range of commercial fishing activities. The Greater Hobart region is also renowned for its significant Atlantic salmon aquaculture sector. In the region, the Derwent River, Frederick Henry Bay and Norfolk Bay estuaries are popular sites for both recreational and commercial fishing. The rest of Tasmania is predominantly a wild–catch production area for shellfish, in particular Southern rock lobster, abalone and scallop, and finfish occurring mostly along the south west coast of Tasmania and at King Island. The Tasmanian greenlip abalone population is abundant along the north coast and around the Bass Strait islands. King Island is a large centre for giant crab production. Georges Bay and Ansons Bay are key shellfish producing areas, including cockles, clams and some aquaculture oysters. The ports of Bridport and St. Helens are important landing sites for scallop fishers operating in both Commonwealth and Tasmanian fisheries. Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout aquaculture also occurs in Macquarie Harbour.

In 2015–16 the gross value of Tasmanian fisheries production is estimated to be around $913 million, an increase of 11 per cent ($879 million) from 2014–15. Tasmania contributed 30 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 20 per cent ($182.3 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 80 per cent ($730.7 million).

Tasmania's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by two main products, abalone and southern rock lobster, which account for 44 per cent and 51 per cent, respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production in 2015–16. Over the past decade the real value of Tasmania's wild–caught fisheries products has reduced by 16 per cent to $182.3 million 2015–16. 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 40 per cent to $83 million in 2015–16. 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 24 per cent and 51 per cent of the total volume and value, respectively, of wild–catch production in 2015–16.

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 $730.7 million in 2015–16, representing around 80 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 2015–16, Tasmanian fisheries product exports were valued at $186.9 million. China and Vietnam, are the major destinations for Tasmania fisheries exports, accounting for 35 per cent and 24 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include Hong Kong (20 per cent) and Japan (7 per cent).

Recreational fishing is popular in Tasmania with an estimated 98,000 Tasmanian residents (5 years and over) participating in the activity in the 12 months prior to October 2012 (Lyle, Stark & Tracey 2014). In its survey of recreational fishers in Tasmania found that most fishing effort is directed to South East region (27 per cent). The key species caught by recreational fishers include Flathead, Australian salmon, Trout, Gurnards, Black Bream and Wrasse.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Launceston and North East region was 128,300 hectares, comprised of 91,300 hectares of hardwood plantations and 37,000 hectares of softwood 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 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 were privately managed (317,400 hectares), while 287,900 hectares were multiple-use public forests available for timber production and 174,600 hectares were in nature conservation reserves. The region hosts a number of timber processing industries, mostly in the Tamar Valley including Bell Bay and Launceston.

In 2015–16, the total plantation area in Tasmania was 309,800 hectares, comprised of 233,900 hectares of hardwood plantations and 75,900 hectares of softwood plantations.

In 2015–16, the volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in Tasmania was 2 million cubic metres valued at $149 million. The volume of native hardwood logs harvested was 1.1 million cubic metres valued at $78 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 1.1 million cubic metres valued at $66 million.

The s ales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Tasmania was estimated at $389 million in 2015–16. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2015–16.

In 2016, the Tasmanian forestry sector employed 2,564 workers (1.2 per cent of the total employed workforce in Tasmania) compared with 3,529 (1.6 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, Launceston and North East region
Shows a map of 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. This map is discussed in the above paragraph.
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.

Lyle, J.M., Stark, K.E. & Tracey, S.R. 2014, 2012–13 Survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania,Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.

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Last reviewed:
10 Sep 2018