Company steps up prawn farm plans

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian

The company behind a billion-dollar prawn farming venture has splashed out on aquaculture facilities at Exmouth in a move that will allow it to move into production up to 12 months earlier than expected.

WA Resources Ltd, a subsidiary of Ian Trahar's CO{-2} Group, is believed to have paid about $500,000 for Marine Farms.

It will spend about $300,000 upgrading the 5ha site and converting the plant for prawn brood stock purposes.

The brood stock will be air freighted to a hatchery in Darwin or Wyndham under plans for Project Sea Dragon to produce 100,000 tonnes of black tiger prawns a year from huge grow ponds earmarked for a development site in the far north.

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It is believed the project, which includes a feed mill and processing plant, will be based in the Kimberley and have some link to development of the Ord irrigation scheme.

WARL managing director Robert Bell said the project could also have a footprint in Queensland and he revealed the company was well advanced in talks with a handful of major investors.

The company purchased Marine Farms after deciding it could save time and money by not going ahead with plans to build a new brood stock facility.

"The purchase provides us with a highly biosecure site with access to high-quality water from Exmouth Gulf enabling the development of the prawn brood stock facility - a critical component of our black tiger prawn commercial breeding program," Mr Bell said.

"Marine Farms has aquaculture licences, water systems and infrastructure in place."

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