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 Bunbury region and the recent Western Australia financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The Bunbury region of Western Australia is located in the south-west part of the state, south of Perth. The region includes the major regional centres of Bunbury, Margaret River and Manjimup and comprises the 13 local government areas of Augusta—Margaret River, Boyup Brook, Bridgetown—Greenbushes, Bunbury, Busselton, Capel, Collie, Dardanup, Donnybrook—Balingup, Harvey, Manjimup, Nannup and Waroona. The region covers a total area of around 24,800 square kilometres or 0.98 per cent of Western Australia and is home to approximately 158,100 people (ABS 2011).
Agricultural land in the Bunbury region occupies 7,105 square kilometres, or 29 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 7,596 square kilometres, or 31 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is production forestry, which occupies 7,758 square kilometres or 31 per cent of the Bunbury region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 89,100 people were employed in the Bunbury region. The region accounts for 7 per cent of total employment in Western Australia and 26 per cent of all people employed in the Western Australian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Retail trade was the largest employment sector with 15,700 people, followed by health care and social assistance with 9,300 people and construction with 9,000 people. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector is the fourth largest employment sector with 8,500 people representing about 10 per cent of the region's workforce. Other important employment sectors in the region were manufacturing, accommodation and food services, and education and training.
Value of agricultural production
In 2014–15, the gross value of agricultural production in the Bunbury region was $638 million, which was 8 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Western Australia ($7.9 billion).
The Bunbury region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($141 million), followed by cattle and calves ($80 million) and avocados ($63 million). These commodities together contributed 45 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 1,978 farms in the Bunbury region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 20 per cent of all farm businesses in Western Australia.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Bunbury region, 2014–15
Number of farms
% of Region
Number of farms
Contribution of region
to state total
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)
Sheep Farming (Specialised)
Dairy Cattle Farming
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming
Other Crop Growing nec
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. nec Not elsewhere classified
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 (795 farms) were the most common, accounting for 40 per cent of all farms in the Bunbury region, and 37 per cent of all beef cattle farms in Western Australia.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 52 per cent of farms in the Bunbury region had an EVAO of less than $50,000. These farms accounted for only 4 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2014–15. In comparison, 4 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 44 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Bunbury region in 2014–15.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy, and vegetable farms in Western Australia.
The Bunbury region straddles the West and South Coast marine areas of Western Australia. The western part of the coast line contains the important Geographe Bay area, which contributes to Western Australia's annual harvest of saucer scallops. This coastal area also serves Western Australia's western and demersal gillnet and longline fishery, which lands a range of shark species. Estuarine coastal fisheries contribute a range of finfish species including pilchard, Australian herring, black bream, cobbler, western Australian salmon, scaley mackerel, white bait, southern garfish. Crustacean species are also caught in the area, including southern rock lobster and blue swimmer crabs. A significant portion of West Australia's pilchard and greenlip and brown lip abalone catch is processed in this region. There are few aquaculture activities in the Bunbury region.
The Bunbury region has a higher participation rate than the state average for recreational fishing, only exceeded by the Pilbara and Kimberley in the 2000 National Recreational Fishing Survey (Henry and Lyle 2003). Fishing for finfish in inshore and estuarine waters is popular from both the shore and boats. The main species caught are whiting, Australian herring, tailor and silver trevally. Prawns and blue swimmer crabs are also caught by recreational fishers using nets in the local estuaries.
In 2014–15, the gross value of Western Australian fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild–catch) was $569.6 million, an increase of 16 per cent ($79.4 million) from 2013–14. Western Australia accounted for 21 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2014–15. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for around 86 per cent ($488.4 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 14 per cent ($81.2 million).
Western Australia's wild–catch sector is dominated by the production of western rocklobster, which accounted for around 79 per cent of the state's total wild–catch production in 2014–15. Other major wild–catch seafood products include prawns (8 per cent) and abalone (2 per cent). Over the past decade the real value of Western Australian wild–caught fisheries is estimated to have declined by 10 per cent. The decline in value was mostly driven by a 50 per cent decline in total production volume.
The product for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade is scallops, falling by 90 per cent to $3 million in 2014–15. This was the result of a 94 per cent reduction in the volume caught. A large proportion of rocklobster production is exported, mostly to Hong Kong. Exchange rate movements have a significant effect on the value of rocklobster exports and, in turn, production.
Prawns also account for a significant proportion of Western Australian wild–catch production, accounting for an estimated 15 per cent and 8 per cent of the total volume and value, respectively, of wild–catch production in 2014–15. The value of prawn production increased by 4 per cent to $37.3 million in 2014–15. This mostly reflects a 2 per cent increase in average unit prices.
The real value of Western Australian aquaculture has declined over the past decade by 52 per cent to $81.2 million in 2014–15. Most of the decline can be attributed to a reduction in the value of pearl oyster production.
The value of aquaculture production in 2014–15 increased by 11 per cent ($7.9 million) to $81.2 million. This increase was mainly the result of a $7.1 million rise (12 per cent) in the value of pearl production. Pearls are the most valuable aquaculture product in the state and contributed around 84 per cent ($67.9 million) of aquaculture production value in 2014–15. The edible seafood component of Western Australia's aquaculture sector accounted for 16 per cent ($12.8 million) of total aquaculture production value in 2014–15.
In 2014–15, Western Australia's seafood product exports were valued at $486 million, representing a 24 per cent increase in value compared with 2013–14. The main export seafood product is western rocklobster, which accounted for 91 per cent of the state's exports of seafood in 2014–15. Other major export seafood products include prawns (3 per cent) and abalone (3 per cent).
Vietnam and Hong Kong are the major destination for Western Australian seafood exports, accounting for around 75 per cent and 13 per cent of the total value of exports in 2014–15 respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (4 per cent) and the United States (3 per cent).
Recreational fishing is a popular activity in Western Australia, with an estimated 643 000 people fishing recreationally in the state (Government of Western Australia 2013). Most of the activity is in Perth and the surrounding area. Recreational fishing makes a significant contribution to the state economy and attracts thousands of visitors to regional Western Australia each year (Government of Western Australia 2013). There is also a large charter boat sector providing recreational fishing experiences to local, interstate and international tourists.
In 2010–11, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Bunbury region was approximately 119,700 hectares, including approximately 70,900 hectares of hardwood plantations, 44,400 hectares of softwood plantations and 4,400 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there was approximately 1.6 million hectares of native forests in the Bunbury region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium open (936,500 hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (272,700 hectares) and Eucalypt tall open (180,300 hectares) forest types. Approximately 755,100 hectares of the native forests are multiple-use public forest available for timber production and 577,500 hectares are in nature conservation reserves. The main native forest industry is in the north of the region. Major export and timber processing industries in the Bunbury region are located at Manjimup (woodchipping), Middlesex (wood-based panel production), and Dardanup and Yarloop (sawnwood production). The main timber export facility is the Bunbury Port.
In 2013–14, the total plantation area in Western Australia was approximately 391,500 hectares, comprised of approximately 287,300 hectares of hardwood plantations and 98 hectares of softwood plantations and 5,700 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and the main softwood species planted are maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2014–15, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested was 331,000 cubic metres valued at $26 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 3.4 million cubic metres valued at $239 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 969,000 cubic metres valued at $61 million.
Sales and service income of the Western Australia wood product industry was estimated at $949 million in 2013–14.
Areas of native forest, by tenure, Bunbury region
In 2011, Western Australia's forestry sector employed 5,580 workers (0.5 per cent of the total employed workforce in Western Australia) compared with 5,972 (0.5 per cent) in 2006. The number of people employed includes forestry support services and timber wholesaling.
Source: ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013
ABS 2011, Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.
Government of Western Australia 2013, Recreational Fishing Guide 2013 - simpler rules for better fishing, Department of Fisheries, Perth.
Henry, GW & Lyle, JM (eds) 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, FRDC project no. 99/158, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra