Ground broken on billion dollar tiger prawn project

13 January 2020, at 11:01am

Construction of Project Sea Dragon’s $1.45 billion tiger prawn farming venture has started in earnest in Australia’s Northern Territory.

The venture, which is being led by Seafarms, has started construction of its Bynoe Harbour core breeding centre, with earthworks and bitumen being laid for access roads, along with outlet ponds and fencing, reports the Katherine Times.

One of Seafarms' existing shrimp farms, in Queensland
One of Seafarms' existing shrimp farms, in Queensland

The company aims to develop up to 10,000 hectares of ponds, capable of producing over 100,000 tonnes of tiger prawns (Peneus monodon) a year.

The company invested $5.6 million in to the Northern Territory last year, but is still seeking financial backers for the project, to continue with its works at the Legune grow-out facility.

The company currently produces 1,800 tonnes of prawns a year at its farms in northern Queensland - making it the larges prawn producer in Australia - but Project Sea Dragon will be a significant step up.

When at capacity the project has the potential to create around 1,500 jobs, including 700 at Legune Station and 300 at a Darwin-based hatchery and breeding facilities, along with the main office in Darwin. The first phase of the project will include 1,180 hectares of production ponds, spread over three locations, and 324 hectares of internal recycling ponds at Legune Station, 110 kilometres north east of Kununurra.

The Katherine Times report that the Australian government has invested over $56 million in roads to help support to project.

The Northern Territory's Chief Minister, Michael Gunner, told the paper that: "Project Sea Dragon is exactly the kind of major project the NT needs. It will create up to 1,500 permanent jobs, and diversify the Territory's economy by delivering a new industry for Australia."

Senior editor at The Fish Site

Rob Fletcher has been writing about aquaculture since 2007, as editor of Fish Farmer, Fish Farming Expert and The Fish Site. He has an MA in history from the University of Edinburgh and an MSc in sustainable aquaculture from the University of St Andrews. He currently lives and works in Scotland.

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