Article – Seafarms sets sights on northern Australian cattle stations for 'mind-boggling' prawn farm investment

3 October 2014
Matt Brann
ABC Rural
The company hoping to develop one of the biggest prawn farms in the world is on the hunt for land in the Northern Territory.
It’s understood to be in the running to buy Legune Station on the Western Australian and Northern Territory border near Kununurra.
Seafarms, formally known as Western Australian Resources Limited, is after land in the north to develop a 10,000-hectare prawn farm, capable of producing over 100,000 tonnes of black tiger prawns each year.
Known as Project Sea Dragon, the company has already spent three years and over $12 million on site assessments and feasibility studies, and is now in the final stages of negotiations to acquire land.
The Northern Territory’s Minister for Fisheries, Willem Westra van Holthe, says the scale of the project is ‘mind-boggling’, but certainly achievable, thanks to recent changes to the NT Pastoral Lands Act.
“This is exactly what we were aiming for (when changing the Pastoral Lands Act), to allow for diversification on these pastoral leases and to give pastoralists and companies an opportunity to spread their risk.”

Mr Westra van Holthe says Project Sea Dragon would bring enormous benefits to the Territory.
“There’s an opportunity for more local employment and Indigenous employment with this,” he said.
“This could lead to upgrades in infrastructure out there, and it’s one of those things, with every new project in a regional or remote part of the Territory, it adds to the case for better infrastructure.”
In a statement to ABC Rural, Seafarms’ managing director Robert Bell says the company is encouraged by the ‘can-do’ attitude of the Territory Government.
“The project, if developed in the NT, would also involve a substantial Darwin component with hatchery and breeding facilities, along with several hundred technical staff to support these facilities being based in the city,” he said.
“The company is currently finalising feasibility work on three sites in northern Australia and is in land negotiations on two sites.”
Seafarms says it’s assessing two properties near the Western Australia and Northern Territory border and there is potential for it ‘to operate aquaculture and cattle operations’.
The company would not confirm or deny its interest in Legune.
The sale of Legune has attracted international interest and has potential to meet the needs of Seafarms’ aquaculture plan.
The property neighbours the Ord irrigation scheme and comes with 180,000 hectares of grazing land, 60,000 hectares of floodplain country and, perhaps most importantly, a huge 60,000 megalitre dam.
Seafarms is already Australia’s largest prawn farmer, operating three farms in North Queensland producing 1,600 tonnes a year.
As part of Project Sea Dragon, the company bought land and infrastructure in the Western Australian prawn fishing town of Exmouth last year.
Dam on Legune Station
Courtesy of ABC Rural

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