A MAJOR redevelopment of a prawn farm in North Queensland will increase Queensland’s farmed prawn production by 50 per cent.
Tassal, which is Australia’s largest aquaculture company, acquired the farm in Proserpine last year and will spend $34 million to rehabilitate and further develop the site.
Tassal Head of Engagement Barbara McGregor said improvements would include redeveloping 200 hectares of land based ponds, increasing their volume to by between 2000 to 3000 tonnes.
“To put it into perspective, this project once completed will have the effect of increasing Queensland’s current farmed prawn production by 50 per cent,” Ms McGregor said.
Redeveloping the processing facility and hatchery is also part of the plan.
Ms McGregor said the project would create job opportunities for the region, with about 30 people employed during construction and another 100 jobs once operational.
“There are lots of opportunities for local businesses to help rehabilitate and develop the farm into a leading Australian production hub,” she said.
“Significantly, the farm will require a broad range of skills including farm hands, trade qualified employees through to tertiary qualified aquaculture and environmental specialists.”
Tassal acquired the Fortune Group, one of the largest prawn farming businesses in Australia for $31.9 million in September.
That includes their three farms at Proserpine, Mission Beach and Yamba, in New South Wales.
Tassal Managing Director and CEO Mark Ryan said Australians were demanding more prawns than the could be currently supplied.
“Research is showing home-grown Aussie prawns are a clear preference for consumers,” Mr Ryan said.
“We are confident of our ability to deliver on the potential we see for prawns.”
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner welcomed the project, saying he saw a big future for growth for the aquaculture industry in Queensland.
“It’s my vision to see Queensland become a world leader in aquaculture and projects like this one are an important step in making that happen,” Mr Furner said.
“Investment in sustainable aquaculture can help us to create good local jobs and strengthen our local economy, creating long term opportunities for the region.”
It comes as Pacific Reef Fisheries get set to expand their operations from their Ayr base to a new farm in Guthalungra between the Burdekin and Bowen early this year.
General manager John Moloney oversees the 96 hectare prawn and fish farm near Ayr, and said the another 260 hectares of ponds would be built at the Guthalungra farm.
Construction will commence early this year and take six years to complete.
“We should be able to produce about 3000 tonnes out of that farm, so it’s large,” Mr Moloney said.
“Some of the major fisheries like the Gulf of Carpenteria are less than that.”