Aquaculture project to put more prawns on plates

A $100 million aquaculture project that will generate 2700 tonnes of North Queensland black tiger prawns annually is a step closer to service after being granted prescribed project status by the Queensland Government.

The Guthalungra aquaculture project – located 40 kilometres north of Bowen and adjacent to Elliot River – will be the second North Queensland aquaculture project for Pacific Reef Fisheries, who are already operating a facility in Ayr.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick, said the project is expected to support 130 jobs during construction and 220 jobs once operational.

“Prescribed project status will help ensure this aquaculture facility can become a reality sooner,” Dick said. “It’s innovative and ecologically sustainable farming, and it’s going to provide a real boost for one of our most popular food exports.”

Prawns will be grown using a world-first bioremediation technology created in conjunction with James Cook University.

The project will also set a new global benchmark for aquaculture water remediation, with algae to be used to remove nitrogen and phosphorous from waste water so the facility operates at zero net discharge.

Member for Mackay and Assistant Minister for State Development, Julianne Gilbert, said economic diversification was key to creating more jobs for the region.

“If we want to give our communities more employment opportunities, we’ve got to get behind projects like this,” Gilbert said.

“That’s what our government is doing. We’re making it easier for more jobs to reach our region.”

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, said the large-scale project would feed Australia’s love of prawns and deliver a huge boost to Queensland’s market share.

“Aquaculture is the fastest growing food industry globally, so it’s important we’re doing everything we can as a government to tap into that potential,” Mr Furner said.

“We are supporting Queensland jobs when we eat great-tasting Queensland produce, and this project will result in more people eating quality Queensland seafood.”

Pacific Reef Fisheries proposes to construct 259 one-hectare aquaculture ponds, 1.5 metres deep on a total site area of approximately 768 hectares.

The project will also include:

  • 11.3 ha seawater storage pond (370 mL storage capacity)
  • 47 ha discharge remediation area
  • Intake and treated discharge water pipelines (approx. 5.5 km long)
  • Freshwater storage pond and water reticulation system
  • Seafood processing facilities
  • Farm support infrastructure (storage, workshops, accommodation)

Earthworks on the site are due to commence midyear.

Prescribed project status enables Queensland’s independent Coordinator-General to assist the proponent in progressing the project.

The Office of the Coordinator-General is working with the proponent to help them secure operational works approvals, with the aim of starting construction in June 2019.