Prawn fa­cil­ity work close to com­ple­tion

Pilbara News - - News - Cally Dupe

An in­fra­struc­ture over­haul three years in the mak­ing is near­ing com­ple­tion in Ex­mouth.

Perth’s Sea­farms Group has in­vested $1.2 mil­lion into trans­form­ing a moth­balled fish farm into a quar­an­tine fa­cil­ity for prawns.

The fa­cil­ity, which will also be used for founder stock, will ser­vice what could be­come Aus­tralia’s big­gest prawn farm in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

When works started ear­lier this year, Sea­farms man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Chris Mitchell said the Ex­mouth fa­cil­ity would be used to quar­an­tine founder stock prawns, har­vested from the wild.

He said the Ex­mouth site was se­lected be­cause it posed a low biose­cu­rity risk, be­ing more than 2000km from Sea­farms’ planned op­er­a­tions in the NT and the Kim­ber­ley, and it was al­ready li­censed for aqua­cul­ture.

“The ad­van­tage of Ex­mouth was it was al­ready li­censed as an aqua­cul­ture cen­tre, ” Mr Mitchell said.

“It is very re­mote from the other fa­cil­i­ties, which is all about biose­cu­rity.

“You are bring­ing an­i­mals in that haven’t been quar­an­tined or screened, so it just makes a lot of sense.”

Sea­farms bought Marine Farms’ bar­ra­mundi farm in 2013 to hold quar­an­tine founder stock for its $1.5 bil­lion Project Sea Dragon at Le­gune Sta­tion.

Re­fur­bish­ment work is ex­pected to be com­pleted in the com­ing weeks.

Mr Mitchell said there would be some lo­cal jobs on of­fer at the Ex­mouth fa­cil­ity, though fewer than at most of its other lo­ca­tions.

At full ca­pac­ity, Project Sea Dragon will have 10,000ha of salt­wa­ter grow-out ponds stretch­ing across the flood­plains of the Vic­to­ria and Keep rivers near the WA-NT bor­der and pro­duce more than 100,000 tonnes of black tiger prawns a year.

Prawns will be pro­cessed in Ku­nunurra and ex­ported to Asian mar­kets from ei­ther Wyn­d­ham or Dar­win.

The Ex­mouth re­fur­bish­ment forms part of the com­pany’s over­all spend­ing to date of $65 mil­lion.

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