Prawn facility work close to completion
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.