PRAWN BOOM MEANS JOBS
Aquaculture company keen to start on $2.6m expansion
THE prawn farm on the northern outskirts of Port Douglas is set to undergo a $2.6 million expansion this year, creating around nine fulltime jobs.
Owners Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture acquired land for new ponds and a new processing plant over the past few years and are now looking with some urgency to getting production ramped up from the current 300 tonnes a year to 500 tonnes.
GCMA’s main facility on the Logan River has been destocked in response to the detection of white spot disease in prawn farms late last year. All seven farms on the Logan River have been destocked.
GCMA lost 25 million black tiger prawns – there is not a single prawn on site.
It is precisely the need to diversify risk that general manager Nick Moore says spurred his company several years ago to build up its Port Douglas operations. “You’ve got to have plan B, C and D,” Mr Moore told the Gazette.
“We’re Aussie farmers, remember, and if any farmers in the world have to put up with what we do, with flood, fires, drought and governments . . .
“This was something we always had in our mind.
“In fact we actually have animals in another bio-secure facility somewhere else as well.
“You cannot afford to lose your brood stock – they are irreplaceable. Ironically, we set up separate sites in case of floods and other risk, not necessarily in case of the outbreak of exotic diseases.”
The company put in a DA to expand the farm in 2015 and it was approved late last year – just when one of those risks – an exotic disease – took full impact. Now with the Logan River farm offline for an indefinite time, the need for cashflow is paramount.
“It’s unfortunate this has occurred in the year that it did because we need to be very careful as to how we spend whatever capital we retain, since not having a crop this year is having a pretty devastating impact on cashflow.
“Having said that, we are dedicated to increasing our area of pondage at Port Douglas. There are already black tiger prawns in production on the Killaloe site, but not a breeding facility so we would be looking at building something up there so we can do something a bit more sophisticated.”
Mr Moore said GCMA wanted to boost production as soon as it could; site preparations would start as soon as the Wet Season allowed.
We set up separate sites in case of floods and other risk, not necessarily in case of exotic diseases
Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture general manager Nick Moore with a giant female breeding prawn in one of the farm's spawning pond sheds