The Australian and Northern Territory Governments have awarded a $1.45 billion prawn farm with a Major Project Status which recognises the project’s potential to provide significant economic opportunities to the NT and kick-start private investment across the north.
The project – named “Sea Dragon” – is a large-scale, integrated, land-based prawn aquaculture project in northern Australia designed to produce high-quality, year-round reliable volumes for export markets.
Once fully developed, it will create 1600 direct jobs and produce more than 100,000 tonnes of prawns a year, which will make it one of the world’s largest prawn aquaculture farms.
The announcement – made by Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss last week – comes on the back of the recent launch of the Australian Government’s Northern Australia White Paper.
“This is the type of project we want to encourage across northern Australia. It is visionary and comes at the right time to meet surging global demand and takes advantage of northern Australia’s inherent benefits of space, location and opportunity,” Mr Truss said.
“With Major Project Status, Project Sea Dragon will now have access to services to coordinate Australian Government and Northern Territory Government processes, such as environmental and biosecurity approvals.”
Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles said Project Sea Dragon involved the development of a 10,000 hectare prawn farm at Legune Station that would position the Northern Territory as a global aquaculture precinct and deliver ongoing economic growth in the region.
“My Government is determined to unlock the Territory’s full potential and create more jobs and opportunities for Territorians by supporting major projects to develop northern Australia,” he said.
“Project Sea Dragon demonstrates the way forward for northern Australia development with three Governments (NT, WA and the Commonwealth) working together with the private sector on a project that will boost economic activity and create jobs in remote and regional Australia.”
Mr Truss said a Final Investment Decision will be made at the end of 2016 with the project proponents, Seafarms Group Limited, well-positioned to take advantage of the growing international demand for seafood.
“If the Final Investment Decision is positive, Stage 1 of the project will involve construction of the first 1,080 hectare ponds (3 farms) during the dry season of mid-2017,” Mr Truss said.
“It is expected that the first prawn exports would be made in late 2018 with the majority of the product aimed at Asian markets.”
The project will be developed in five stages and is expected to be fully completed in seven years.