Prawn farmer nets aquaculture firm

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Ian Trahar.
Camera IconIan Trahar. Credit: The West Australian

Ian Trahar is a step closer to establishing a billion-dollar prawn farming operation in the State's far north after the purchase of one of Australia's biggest aquaculture businesses.

The CO2 Group, controlled by Mr Trahar, has netted Queens- land prawn producer Seafarm through wholly-owned subsidiary WA Resources Ltd in an $11 million deal.

The purchase of Australia's oldest and biggest fully integrated prawn aquaculture business follows the acquisition of the Marine Farm aquaculture facilities at Exmouth in September.

WARL managing director Robert Bell said the Seafarm deal was significant in building up Project Sea Dragon, an ambitious plan to produce 100,000 tonnes of black tiger prawns a year from huge grow ponds in the Kimberley or Northern Territory.

Mr Bell said WARL would retain the Seafarm name and continue to sell banana prawns under the Crystal Bay brand.

Seafarm produces about 1000 tonnes of banana prawns a year.

Mr Bell said WARL planned to move into tiger prawn production and eventually into growing black tiger prawns.

"We'll start to grow tiger prawns as well as bananas, which are stock and trade of Seafarm's production system," he said.

"We'll then move into black tigers and use that to get more of a leg up on breeding and production as part of the Project Sea Dragon strategy."

Mr Bell said Marine Farms in Exmouth would complement the Seafarm business by providing an early start on the black tiger prawn breeding program.

He also welcomed recent moves by Queensland authorities to review the regulatory burden on aquaculture developments.

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