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 Tasmania and the recent financial performance of the Tasmanian broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
Tasmania covers an area of around 68,401 square kilometres and is home to approximately 522,200 people (ABS 2018). Agricultural land in Tasmania occupies 18,900 square kilometres, or around 28 per cent, mostly in the north and east of the state. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 32,650 square kilometres, or 48.5 per cent of the state. The most common land use by area is nature conservation, which occupies 19,400 square kilometres or 29 per cent, mostly in the west and south–west of the state (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the August 2020 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 253,200 people were employed in Tasmania.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 39,200 people, followed by retail trade with 25,500 people, and education and training with 24,400 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were accommodation and food services; public administration and safety; and construction. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 17,000 people, representing 7 per cent of the state's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in Tasmania was $1.6 billion, which was about 3 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Australia ($60 billion).
The most important individual commodities in Tasmania based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($457 million), followed by cattle and calves ($342 million) and potatoes ($127 million). These commodities together contributed 57 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the state.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2018–19 there were 2,171 farms in Tasmania with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The state contains about 3 per cent of all farm businesses in Australia.
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of Tas to Australian total %|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||645||30||23,359||3|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||404||19||5,260||8|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||304||14||9,712||3|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||246||11||2,591||9|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||188||9||5,117||4|
|Stone Fruit Growing||50||2||499||10|
|Apple and Pear Growing||31||1||401||8|
|Other Crop Growing nec||30||1||959||3|
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, Customised report, 2020
Farms in table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (645 farms) were the most common, accounting for 30 per cent of all 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 27 per cent of farms in Tasmania 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 2018–19. In comparison, 18 per cent of farms in the state had an EVAO of more than 1 million and accounted for an estimated 62 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in Tasmania in 2018–19.
In 2017–18 the gross value product (GVP) of Tasmanian fisheries and aquaculture is estimated to be around $1.07 billion, an increase of 13% ($121 million) from 2016–17. Tasmania contributed 34% of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2017–18. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 18% ($194.3 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 82% ($873.5 million).
Tasmania's wild-catch fisheries sector is dominated by two main products, Southern Rock Lobster and Abalone, which account for 50% and 44.5%, respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production in 2017–18. Tasmanian wild-catch GVP increased by 10% to $194.3 million in 2017–18. Southern Rock Lobster production value increased by 17% to $97.1 million as result of higher catch and increased average prices. In contrast, Abalone catch decreased in 2017–18 due to reductions in Total Allowable Catch (TAC). However, GVP increased by 3% to $86.4 million, reflecting an increase in average prices and demand for Abalone. Tasmania has recently introduced a new Seaweed fishery. While only a minor contributor to GVP at present, the sector may grow in importance over time.
Over the past decade the real value of Tasmania’s aquaculture production increased by 118%, reaching $873.5 million in 2017–18. This growth is mainly attributed to increases in the output of farmed Salmonid species, in particular, Atlantic Salmon. In 2017–18, the GVP of aquaculture in Tasmania increased by 13%. Salmonids are the major aquaculture product of Tasmania, accounting for 96% of total aquaculture production in that state. In 2017–18 Salmonids production value increased by 13% to $838.3 million, which was driven by a 17% increase in production volume. The increase in production volume was likely partially due to destocking of Tasmania’s Macquarie Harbour in late 2017 because of an outbreak of Pilchard Orthomyxovirus (POMV) (Street & Dunlevie 2018). In 2017–18 aquaculture Abalone had the highest relative production value increase (up 36% on 2016–17) and the Abalone aquaculture industry expanded, supported by higher prices (reflecting continued demand for Abalone from the Chinese market).
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.
In 2018–19, Tasmanian fisheries product exports were valued at $219.8 million and were dominated by exported Salmonids. China, Indonesia and Singapore are the major destinations for Tasmanian fisheries exports, accounting for 73%, 6% and 4% of the total value of exports in 2018–19, respectively.
Recreational fishing is popular in Tasmania with an estimated 106,000 Tasmanian residents (5 years and over) participating in the activity in the 12 months prior to October 2017, representing 24% of the total population (Lyle et al 2019). In its survey of recreational fishers in Tasmania found that half of the state’s fishing effort is directed to South East region. The key species caught by recreational fishers include Flathead, Australian Salmon, Trout, Gurnards, Wrasse, Southern Calamari, Gould’s Squid and Rock Lobster.
Note: Where applicable the Australian Fish Names Standard AS SSA 5300-2019 is now used in this section. In this section standard fish names for groups of species or species families are not capitalised and employ the use of initial capital letters.
In 2016–17, the total plantation area in Tasmania was 309,900 hectares, comprised of 233,900 hectares of hardwood plantations and 75,900 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species planted are blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens). The main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, there were 3.3 million hectares of native forests in Tasmania, comprised mainly of eucalypt medium woodland forest (1.0 million hectares), eucalypt tall open forest (831,000 hectares), rainforest (699,000 hectares), and eucalypt tall woodland forest (259,000 hectares). There were 1.5 million hectares of native forests in nature conservation reserves, 806,000 hectares were privately managed and 612,000 hectares were multiple-use public forests.
In 2016–17, the volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in Tasmania was 2.6 million cubic metres valued at $167 million. The volume of native hardwood logs harvested was 1.2 million cubic metres valued at $85 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 1.4 million cubic metres valued at $106 million.
In 2016, Tasmania had 30 sawmills (including three softwood sawmills), two post and pole processors, five wood-based panel processors, and one paper and paperboard processor. Tasmania’s has the most log and woodchip export facilities (nine in total) nationally. All these processors are located throughout Tasmania. The major timber processing centres include Bell Bay, Boyer, Launceston, and Smithton. The principal ports exporting forest products are located at Bell Bay, Burnie and Hobart.
In 2016–17, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Tasmania was $374 million. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2016–17.
In 2016, the Tasmanian forestry sector employed 2,440 persons (1.2 per cent of all persons employed in Tasmania), compared with 3,414 (1.6 per cent) in 2011. The number of persons employed includes in the following subsectors combined: forestry and logging; forestry support services; wood product manufacturing; and pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing.
ABARES 2016, Land Use of Australia 2010–11, ABARES, Canberra, May.
ABARES 2018, Catchment scale land use of Australia – December 2018, Canberra, December.
ABS 2018, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 10 January 2019.
ABS 2020a, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, August 2020, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 12 December 2020.
ABS 2020b, Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2018-19, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 29 May 2020.
Lyle, J.M., Stark, K.E., Ewing, G.P. & Tracey, S.R. 2019, 2017-18 survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania (PDF 2.2MB), Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania.
Street, E & Dunlevie, J 2018, Macquarie Harbour salmon: 1.35 million fish deaths prompt call to ‘empty’ waterway of farms, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 29 May 2018, accessed 27 October 2019.