Support extended for prawn project

A multi-billion dollar prawn aquaculture project, expected to create 1,600 jobs in Northern Australia, has been granted a renewal of its Major Project Status.

Project Sea Dragon will produce Black Tiger prawns, mainly for the Asian export market, and involves five sites in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said her government will renew support for the project, being developed by Seafarms Group.

“This project is expected to generate $3 billion in export revenue, helping to boost our economy further,” Andrews said. “Stage 1 of the project is expected to create 1,000 jobs – at full scale this will rise to 1,600 jobs.

“Ultimately, the project will involve construction of about 10,000 hectares of ponds with the project to span more than 90 years, and about 15,000 tonnes per annum of prawns will be produced in the project’s first full stage of development.”

The project includes a partnership with major international seafood company Nissui, and has strong support from Indigenous stakeholders and local communities who will benefit from jobs, training and protection of sites and the environment.

This Major Project Status renewal comes as the Liberal National Government announced $420,000 in funding to develop a comprehensive plan for the aquaculture industry in Northern Australia.

Project Sea Dragon is land-based and has five core sites. The Legune Station prawn farm in the Northern Territory will be supported by a wild-caught prawn stocking and quarantine centre at Exmouth, WA; a Core Breeding Centre and Broodstock Maturation Centre at Bynoe Harbour near Darwin; a commercial hatchery at Gunn Point near Darwin and a processing plant at Kununurra, WA.

Over the next 12 months researchers from James Cook University will work with CSIRO, Blueshift Consulting, the Australian Barramundi Farmers Association, Australian Prawn Farmers Association and the Indigenous Land Corporation to develop the plan.

The Northern Territory and Western Australian Governments are also providing priority support to the project.