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Environmental boon for $1.5 billion prawn farm

The Northern Territory’s environmental watchdog has approved an ambitious plan to build what could become Australia’s biggest prawn farm on a cattle station near the WA border.

Seafarms Group plans to produce 14,000 tonnes of black tiger prawns each year as the first stage of its $1.45 billion Project Sea Dragon, flagged for Legune Station in the NT.

Prawns, grown using water from Australia’s largest private dam at Legune, would be processed at Kununurra and exported to Asian markets from Wyndham Port.

In approving the project today, NT EPA chairman Paul Vogel said the project could be managed in “an environmentally acceptable manner”, subject to the imposition of 13 recommendations.

“Project Sea Dragon will need to address each of these recommendations,” he said.

“That includes the establishment of a Scientific Advisory Group to oversee the development and implementation of a water bird monitoring and mitigation program.”

The EPA’s assessment will now be delivered to the NT Environment Minister Lauren Moss and Minister for Primary Industry and Resources Ken Vowles, who will decide whether to grant an aquaculture licence and what conditions should apply.

At full scale, Seafarms’ project would produce 100,000 tonnes of black tiger prawns a year and employ about 1500 people.

The project includes a processing plant at Kununurra, a quarantine facility at Exmouth, grow out ponds at Legune Station and a brood stock centre at Bynoe Harbour near Darwin.

To view the NT EPA’s Assessment Report, visit www.ntepa.nt.gov.au/environmental-assessments/projects-completed

Key recommendations

– Independent review of water quality monitoring program

– Set up of a Scientific Advisory Group

– Independent audit of compliance five years after the project starts

– Public availability of the Environmental Management Plan

– Soil monitoring for pond construction

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