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$40M Prawn Farm Set to Go Ahead

AUSTRALIA - Queensland's State Government has granted conditional approval for the construction of a $40 million prawn farm near Bowen in the north of the state.

The Pacific Reef Fisheries proposal at Guthalungra is expected to boost the state's farmed prawn production by 50 per cent and will add almost $22 million to regional and state economies.

Regional Development Minister Desley Boyle says 200 jobs will be created during construction of the new facilities. It will be Queensland's biggest seafood farm and should contribute around $13 million annually to the local economy.

The Australian Prawn Farmers Association is thrilled plans have been approved.

"The local prawn farming industry has been stagnated growth-wise for may be about three or four years," said its spokesman, Scott Walter.

He said that the industry has faced increasing pressure from imports and the high rates in the money markets. However, this development will increase productivity and that will have an impact.

Several other prawn farms in the region are expanding and the market for black tiger and banana prawns - the species likely to be raised at Bowen - is growing steadily, with both domestic and export potential.

"It's a really exciting growing industry for Queensland's at the moment," he added.

Environmental Awareness

The company will have to meet strict environmental and operating guidelines, including a sand filtration system to treat waste water and the rehabilitation of 240 hectares of degraded land to mitigate sediment and nutrient run-off.

The project now needs to secure Commonwealth approval of the environmental impacts before it can go ahead.