About my region – Greater Melbourne Victoria

​​​​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 Melbourne region and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Greater Melbourne region comprises 29 local government areas and parts of five others. It includes Melbourne and the major regional centres of Bacchus Marsh, Cockatoo, Frankston, Healesville, Macedon and Werribee. The region covers a total area of around 9,991 square kilometres or 4.39 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 4.7 million people (ABS 2017).

Agricultural land in the Greater Melbourne region occupies 3,617 square kilometres, or 36 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 1,722 square kilometres, or 17 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 2,580 square kilometres or 26 per cent of the Greater Melbourne region.

Broad land use in the Greater Melbourne region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Geater Melbourne region. It includes a legend which shows the broad land use categories— nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use; grazing native vegetation; production forestry; grazing modified pastures; plantation forestry; cropping; horticulture; intensive uses and water. This map is discussed in the above paragraph.
Source: Catchment scale land use of Australia ABARES 2016

Employment

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the August 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 2.4 million people were employed in the Greater Melbourne region. The region accounts for 78 per cent of total employment in Victoria and 16 per cent of all people employed in the Victorian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 312,900 people, followed by retail trade with 264,200 people and professional, scientific and technical services with 243,500 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were manufacturing, education and training, and construction. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 14,600 people, representing less than 1 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Greater Melbourne region, August 2017
Shows the number of people employed in the Greater Melbourne region by industry in thousands. The figure is discussed in the previous two paragraphs.
Note: Annual average of the preceding 4 quarters
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 6291.0, Labour Force, Australia 2017

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2015–16, the gross value of agricultural production in the Greater Melbourne region was $1.3 billion, which was 10 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($13.1 billion).

The Greater Melbourne region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were vegetables ($415 million), followed by poultry ($243 million) and nurseries ($180 million). These commodities together contributed 62 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2015–16 the Greater Melbourne region accounted for 98 per cent ($68 million) of the total value of Victoria's strawberries production. The most important vegetables based on the gross value of production were mushrooms ($90 million), followed by lettuces ($47 million) and broccoli ($38 million).

Value of agricultural production, Greater Melbourne region, 2015–16
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the region in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous three paragraphs.
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 2017

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 2,189 farms in the Greater Melbourne region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 8 per cent of all farm businesses in Victoria.

Industry classification

Greater Melbourne region

Victoria

Number of farms

% of region

Number of farms

Contribution of region to state total %

Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)

746

34.1

7,740

9.6

Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)

236

10.8

566

41.7

Dairy Cattle Farming

182

8.3

4,711

3.9

Horse Farming

169

7.7

681

24.8

Grape Growing

127

5.8

1,131

11.2

Poultry Farming (Meat)

114

5.2

203

56.1

Berry Fruit Growing

83

3.8

110

75.4

Nursery Production (Outdoors)

68

3.1

107

63.4

Floriculture Production (Under Cover)

63

2.9

65

96.2

Sheep Farming (Specialised)

54

2.5

2,987

1.8

Other

346

15.8

8,269

4.2

Total agriculture

2,189

100

26,571

8.2

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 2016

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (746 farms) were the most common, accounting for 34 per cent of all farms in the Greater Melbourne region, and 10 per cent of all beef cattle farms in Victoria.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 46 per cent of farms in the Greater Melbourne 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 64 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Greater Melbourne region in 2014–15.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Greater Melbourne region, 2014–15
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Greater Melbourne region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016

Farm financial performance

Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in Victoria.

Fisheries sector

Commercial fishing in the Greater Melbourne region mostly occurs in Port Phillip Bay and Western Port. These are key landing sites and homeports for fishing vessels in Victoria. Much of this catch is sold through the Melbourne Seafood Centre (opened in 2012, previously the site of the Melbourne wholesale fish market), Australia's second largest seafood market after the Sydney Fish Market. Popular commercial species in Port Phillip Bay include: anchovy, Australian salmon, calamari, flathead, flounder, garfish, snapper, whiting, abalone, blue mussel. The main targeted species in Western Port include: snapper, King George whiting, gummy shark, mulloway, flathead and elephant fish. Victoria is the main mussel producing state in Australia with production concentrated in Port Phillip Bay and Western Port.

The Greater Melbourne region is also a key area for recreational fishing. Although the participation rate of Melbourne residents in recreational fishing is much lower than in regional centres, the large population means that most Victorian fishers live in this region. In the 2000 National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, 58 per cent of Victorian recreational fishers lived in the Greater Melbourne region (Henry & Lyle 2003). They fish in all regions of Victoria but the majority of fishing effort is recorded in Port Phillip Bay, Western Port Bay and adjacent coastal waters where flathead, King George whiting, Australian salmon and snapper are the most popular target species. Fishing from boats accounts for 70 per cent of the fishing effort in these locations. Freshwater lakes and river reaches are also popular fishing destinations for Melbourne residents, especially the Goulburn River and Upper Murray River catchments. Redfin, yabbies, trout and carp are the most popular freshwater species targeted by Melbourne residents.

In 2014–15 the gross value of Victoria's fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild–catch) was $88 million, an increase of 9 per cent ($7.6 million) from 2013–14. Victoria contributed 3 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2014–15. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 67 per cent ($58.7 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 33 per cent ($29.1 million).

Victoria's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by two main products—abalone and Southern rocklobster—which account for 34 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production in 2014–15. Over the last decade the real value of Victoria's wild-caught fisheries products has reduced by 48 per cent to $58.7 million in 2014–15.

The product for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade is wild—caught abalone, falling by 74 per cent to $20.2 million in 2014–15. This is largely attributable to the Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis disease which has significantly reduced abalone production in the Victorian wild–catch sector in recent years. 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.

Commonwealth fisheries active in the waters off Victoria include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) and the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors (supplies gummy shark or 'flake' to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery, Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) and the Southern Squid Jig Fishery also operate in the waters off Victoria.

In 2014–15 the volume of Victoria's aquaculture production increased by 19 per cent (451 tonnes) to 2,870 tonnes. Salmonids, blue mussels and abalone accounted for 40 per cent, 35 per cent and 15 per cent respectively of this volume and 26 per cent, 15 per cent and 51 per cent respectively of the total value of Victorian aquaculture production in 2014–15.

In 2014–15, fisheries products exported from Victoria were valued at $177 million. This value includes State and Commonwealth fisheries products exported from the ports of Victoria, which may be sourced from Victorian waters or other parts of the country. The main export products include abalone and Southern rocklobster. Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore are the major destinations for Victorian fisheries exports, accounting for 61 per cent, 15 per cent and 7 per cent of the total value of exports in 2014–15, respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (7 per cent) and China (2 per cent).

Recreational fishing is popular in Victoria. In the national survey of recreational fishers undertaken in the early 2000s it was found that Victoria had approximately 550,000 recreational fishers that fished in the 12 months to May 2000, an estimated 12.7 per cent of Victoria's population (Henry & Lyle 2003). This includes gamefishing for species such as southern bluefin tuna (Green et al 2012). Recreational fishing also includes diving for Southern rocklobster, abalone, and scallops and hook and line fishing for a range of finfish species, such as snapper, King George whiting, black bream and flathead. Freshwater anglers target rainbow and brown trout, as well as native freshwater fish

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.

Green, C, Brown, P, Giri K, Bell, J & Conron, S 2012, Quantifying the recreational catch of southern bluefin tuna off the Victorian coast, Recreational Fishing Grants Program research report R09/10/03, Department of Primary Industries, Melbourne, Victoria.

Henry, GW & Lyle JM (eds) 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey. Final report to the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, NSW Fisheries final report series, no. 48, FRDC project no. 99/158, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.

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Last reviewed:
17 Oct 2017