1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2008
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This chapter outlines the main features of two important primary industries in Australia - forestry and commercial fishing.
Australia's native and plantation forests are an important natural resource. They provide the vast majority of timber and paper products used by Australians and support other products and services, such as honey, wildflowers, natural oils, firewood and craft wood.
Forests also provide protection for soils and water resources, and have the valuable capability to absorb harmful carbon gases. As well, forests are the foundation for a broad range of cultural and spiritual experiences, and recreational and educational activities. In recent times, commercial tree growing has increasingly become an integral part of farm operations in the higher rainfall regions.
Australia's wood and paper products industries include hardwood and softwood sawmilling, plywood and panels manufacturing, woodchip production and export, and the pulp and paper industries. While providing most of its sawn timber needs, Australia is still a net importer of forest products.
The Australian Fishing Zone covers an area larger than its land mass making it the third largest fishing zone in the world. However, the catch is small by world standards as the waters of the zone lack nutrient-rich currents, causing low productivity.
Of the 6,000 species of marine and freshwater fish, crustaceans and molluscs occurring in the waters in and around Australia, less than 600 are commercially harvested. Aquaculture is an alternative to taking the naturally-occurring stocks and has considerable potential as a way to ensure the sustainability of existing yields.
A significant proportion of Australian fisheries production - edible and non-edible - is exported with the main destinations being Hong Kong, Japan, the United States of America and China. High value products such as rock lobster, pearls, abalone and tuna ensure that Australia remains a net exporter of fisheries products.
The chapter concludes with the article Sustainable forest management - an update; an article on sustainable forest management was first published in Year Book Australia 2003.