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Economy, Forestry and Fishing

southern bluefin tuna, skipjack tuna, whale population, orange roughy, cultured pearls

Forests cover 21 percent of Australia. The main forest regions, found in the moist coastal and highland belts, consist predominantly of eucalyptus, a hardwood. Eucalyptus wood is widely used in the production of paper and furniture. The jarrah and karri species, which grow in Western Australia, are noted for the durability of their woods. Queensland maple, walnut, and rosewood are prized as cabinet and furniture woods. There are plans to triple the area of hardwood and softwood plantations by 2020 to help supply demands for timber and to reduce exploitation of native forests.

Although Australian waters contain a great variety of fish, the annual catch is relatively smalló214,227 metric tons in 1997. Aquaculture, or fish farming, has grown rapidly in every state and territory since 1980, and income from this industry rose more than threefold during the 1990s. In 1998-1999 almost 70 percent of the yearly income from aquaculture came from various crustaceans and mollusks. The export trade is dominated by rock lobsters (called crayfish in Australia); Western Australia, the leading producer of rock lobsters, is the most important exporter overall. Other significant shellfish products include scallops, prawns, spring and green rock lobsters, oysters, and abalone. Marketed marine fish include orange roughy, sharks and rays, skipjack tuna, mullet, southern bluefin tuna, and escolar. Pearls and trochus shells have been harvested off the northern coast since the 1800s. Darwin, Broome, and Thursday Island are the main pearling centers, but cultured pearls are now more significant. The cultured pearl industry is dominated by Japanese-Australian ventures. Australia was a principal whaling nation until the late 1970s, when it agreed to halt most whaling activities in cooperation with an international effort to maintain the whale population.

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