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 South East region and the recent financial performance of the Tasmanian broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The South East region of Tasmania is located in the south east corner of the state but excludes the Hobart statistical area. The region covers the six local government areas of Central Highlands, Derwent Valley, Glamorgan—Spring Bay, Huon Valley, Southern Midlands and Tasman, part of Kingborough, and the regional centres of Dover, Oatlands, Port Arthur, Strathgordon and Triabunna. The region covers a total area of around 23,800 square kilometres or 34.8 per cent of Tasmania's total area and is home to approximately 35,800 people (ABS 2011).
Agricultural land in the South East region occupies 6,630 square kilometres, or 28 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 11,560 square kilometres, or 49 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is nature conservation, which occupies 8,950 square kilometres or 38 per cent of the South East region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 17,100 people were employed in the South East region. The South East region accounts for 7 per cent of total employment in Tasmania and 25 per cent of all people employed in the Tasmanian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 3,200 people, representing 19 per cent of the region's workforce. Retail trade was the second largest employment sector with 1,900 people, followed by public administration and safety with 1,800 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were, health care and social assistance, construction and manufacturing.
Value of agricultural production
In 2014–15, the gross value of agricultural production in the South East region was $224 million, which was 16 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Tasmania ($1.4 billion).
The South East region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wool ($38 million), followed by sheep and lambs ($36 million) and cherries ($27 million). These commodities together contributed 45 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2014–15 the South East region accounted for 48 per cent ($17 million) of the total value of Tasmania's apple production.
Number of farms, by industry classification, South East region, 2014–15
|Industry classification||South East region||Tasmania|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
Sheep Farming (Specialised)
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming
Apple and Pear Growing
Stone Fruit Growing
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming
Dairy 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. Sheep farms (185 farms) were the most common, accounting for 32 per cent of all farms in the South East region, and 46 per cent of all sheep 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 60 per cent of farms in the South East 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, 5 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 58 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the South East region in 2014–15.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in Tasmania.
The South East region of Tasmania is predominantly an aquaculture production area, but also a wild–catch production area for shellfish, including abalone and scallop, and finfish. Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout aquaculture are produced in this region, especially around the Houn River, D’Entrecasteaux Channel area, as well as wild-caught finfish and shellfish.
The South East region has the highest participation in recreational fishing in Tasmania, with 27 per cent of the resident population aged five years or older fishing at least once in the 12 months prior to October 2012 (Lyle et al. 2014). The region includes the most popular trout angling locations in Tasmania on the Central Plateau where an estimated two-thirds of trout are caught. Arthurs Lake and the Great Lake are particularly important recreational trout fisheries for the region. The region is also popular with inshore boat fishers, particularly in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel where large numbers of flathead and scallops are harvested, and on the central east coast where finfish are the main target species. The central east coast is a popular fishing location for visitors from other regions of Tasmania.
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 South East region was approximately 71,500 hectares, comprised of approximately 51,800 hectares of hardwood plantations, 9,400 hectares of softwood plantations and 10,300 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 1.2 million hectares of native forests in the South East region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt tall open (378,600 hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (372,300 hectares) and Rainforest (154,800 hectares) forest types. The majority of native forests are in nature conservation reserves (458,500 hectares), approximately 403,800 hectares are privately managed and 302,400 hectares are multiple-use public forest available for timber production. Major timber processing industries are located in Geeveston and Southwood.
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. The number of people employed includes forestry support services and timber wholesaling.
Areas of native forest, by tenure, South East regionSource :ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013
Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.
Lyle, JM, Stark, KE & Tracey, SR 2014, 2012–13 Survey of Recreational Fishing in Tasmania, Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.