AN abundance of fresh black tiger prawns are closer to being on the table after a major aquaculture project in North Queensland was granted prescribed project status by the Queensland Government.
Construction of the $100 million Guthalungra aquaculture facility is expected to start in June and it will produce 2700 tonnes of prawns annually once it is operational.
The project will be the second in the region for Pacific Reef Fisheries, who currently operate a facility in Ayr.
Pacific Reef Fisheries general manager John Moloney, who oversees a 96 hectare prawn and fish farm near Ayr, is a firm advocate for expanding the aquaculture industry.
He said it had taken some time to get the permits for the Guthalungra farm, which will have about 260 hectares of ponds and boost production considerably above the 1000 tonnes of prawns and 100 tonnes of Cobia produced at the Ayr farm.
The Guthalungra prawns will be grown using a world-first bioremediation technology created in conjunction with James Cook University.
The project will also set a new global benchmark for aquaculture water remediation, with algae to be used to remove nitrogen and phosphorous from waste water so the facility operates at zero net discharge.
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said the large-scale project would feed Australia's love of prawns and deliver a huge boost to Queensland's market share.
"Aquaculture is the fastest growing food industry globally, so it's important we're doing everything we can as a government to tap into that potential," Mr Furner said.
"We are supporting Queensland jobs when we eat great-tasting Queensland produce, and this project will result in more people eating quality Queensland seafood."
State Development Minister Cameron Dick said the prescribed project status would ensure the facility got off the ground sooner.
"It's innovative and ecologically sustainable farming, and it's going to provide a real boost for one of our most popular food exports."
The project was expected to support 130 jobs during construction and 220 jobs once operational.
Prescribed project status enables Queensland's independent Coordinator-General to assist the proponent in progressing the project.