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 Western Australia and the recent Western Australia financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
Western Australia covers a total area of around 2,524,200 square kilometres and is home to approximately 2,575,500 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in Western Australia occupies 1,064,700 square kilometres, or around 42 per cent of the state. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 1,395,200 square kilometres, or 55 per cent of the state. The most common land use by area is minimal use, which occupies 926,000 square kilometres or 37 per cent of the state, followed by grazing of native vegetation, occupying 896,500 square kilometres or 36 per cent of the state (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the August 2020 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 1.3 million people were employed in the state of Western Australia.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 168,100 people, followed by construction with 123,700 people, and retail trade with 119,600 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were mining; education and training; and professional, scientific and technical services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 35,600 people, representing 3 per cent of the state's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in Western Australia was $10.7 billion, which was 18 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Australia ($60 billion).
The most important commodities in Western Australia based on the gross value of agricultural production were wheat ($3.4 billion), followed by barley ($1.7 billion) and wool ($976 million). These commodities together contributed 56 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 7,715 farms in the Western Australia with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The state contains 10 per cent of all farm businesses in Australia.
|Industry classification||Western Australia||Australia|
|Number of farms||% of State||Number of farms||Contribution of WA
to Australian total
|Other Grain Growing||1,981||25.7||8,259||24.0|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||1,892||24.5||9,385||20.2|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||1,199||15.5||23,359||5.1|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||835||10.8||9,712||8.6|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||337||4.4||2,591||13.0|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||193||2.5||5,117||3.8|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||178||2.3||5,260||3.4|
|Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing||136||1.8||1,856||7.3|
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.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Customised report, 2020
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Other grain growing farms (1,981 farms) were the most common, accounting for 26 per cent of all 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 19 per cent of farms in Western Australia had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 2 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2018–19. In comparison, 37 per cent of farms in the state had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 80 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in Western Australia in 2018–19.
In 2017–18, the gross value product (GVP) of Western Australian fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild-catch) was $633.7 million, an increase of 2% ($13.9 million) from 2016–17. Western Australia accounted for 20% of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2017–18. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for around 87.5% ($554.5 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 12.5% ($79.2 million).
The GVP of Western Australia wild-catch fisheries increased by 5% in 2017–18 to $554.5 million. Western Rock Lobster is the single most significant contributor to Western Australia wild-catch fisheries GVP, contributing 79% ($438.1 million) of total wild-caught production value in 2017–18 with an increase of 9% from 2016–17. The Western Rock Lobster industry is highly export oriented with China being the main export destination. Increased production volume have offset a slight decline in average unit prices. The increase in production in financial year terms was due to an increase in total allowable catch (TAC) as well as the distribution of the catch across the full calendar year. Generally, catch is highest in the first couple of months of the calendar year, coinciding with Lunar New Year.
Other major wild-catch seafood products include Prawns (6.4%; $35.3 million), Tropical Snappers (2.8%; $15.5 million) and Scallops (2.4%; $13.1 million). In 2017–18 wild-catch Prawns production decreased by 21%, while Scallop production decreased by 14% after a 227% increase between 2015–16 and 2016–17. Tropical Snapper wild-catch production increased by 11% in 2017–18. Over the past decade the real value of Western Australian wild-caught fisheries is estimated to have increased by 37%. The real value of Western Australian aquaculture has declined over the past decade by almost 50% to $79.2 million in 2017–18. Most of the decline can be attributed to a reduction in the value of Pearl Oyster production. In the 10 years to 2017–18, the real value (in 2017–18 dollars) of Pearl Oyster GVP fell from $141.2 million to $52.6 million and its contribution to aquaculture production value fell from 92% to 66%. Aquaculture in Western Australia has further potential for growth as a result of recent announcements regarding the creation of two new aquaculture zones in the Kimberly and the state’s Mid West and a hatchery in Albany. Such measures facilitate the setting up and expansion of aquaculture operations.
In 2017–18, the value of aquaculture production decreased by 12% ($11.2 million) to $79.2 million. Pearl Oysters are the most valuable aquaculture product in the state and contributed around 66% ($52.6 million) of aquaculture production value in 2017–18. The edible seafood component of Western Australia's aquaculture sector accounted for 34% ($26.6 million) of total aquaculture production value in 2017–18.
In 2018–19, Western Australia's seafood product exports were valued at $542.8 million. The main export seafood product is Western Rock Lobster, which accounted for 87% of the state's exports of seafood in 2018–19, followed by Prawns at 3%. China and Hong Kong are the major destinations for Western Australia fisheries exports, accounting for 84% and 7% of the total value of exports in 2018–19, respectively. Other export destinations include the United States of America (2%), Japan (2%), Vietnam (1%) and Singapore (1%).
Recreational fishing is a popular activity in Western Australia, with an estimated 619,000 people fishing recreationally in the state in 2018–19 (Addis 2019). Most of the activity is in the West Coast bioregion, around Perth and the surrounding area. Most boat-based recreational fishing effort occurred in coastal nearshore (60%), inshore demersal (25%) and estuary habitats (11%), and the remainder in pelagic (2%), offshore demersal (1%) and freshwater (1%). The key species caught by recreational fishers include School Whiting, Australian Herring, Pink Snapper, West Australian Dhufish, Silver Trevally, Black Bream, King George Whiting, Western King Wrasse, Breaksea Cod and Baldchin Groper (Ryan et al. 2017).
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 2017–18, the total plantation area in Western Australia was 361,700 hectares, comprised of 253,500 hectares of hardwood plantations and 99,700 hectares of softwood plantations.
In 2016, Western Australia had 28 sawmills (including 2 softwood sawmills), 4 post and pole processors and 2 wood based panel processors.
In 2016, there were 20.4 million hectares of native forests in Western Australia, comprised mainly of eucalypt medium (8.6 million hectares), eucalypt mallee (6.3 million hectares) and acacia (3.2 million hectares).
In 2017–18, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Western Australia was 366 thousand cubic metres, valued at $26.9 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in Western Australia was 3.3 million cubic metres, valued at $268.6 million. The volume of plantation softwood logs harvested in Western Australia was 849 thousand cubic metres, valued at $58.8 million.
In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Western Australia was $1.1 billion. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2017–18.
In 2016, the Western Australia forestry sector employed 3,746 workers (0.3 per cent) of the total employed workforce in Western Australia) compared with 5,283 (0.5 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes in the following industries: 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 16 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.
Addis, D 2019, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Annual Report 2019 (PDF 8.4 MB). Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Perth Western Australia
Ryan, KL, Hall, NG, Lai EK, Smallwood, CB, Taylor, SM & Wise, BS 2017, Statewide survey of boat-based recreational fishing in Western Australia 2015/16. Fisheries Research Report No. 287, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia. 205pp.