The Tassal prawn farm at Proserpine.
The Tassal prawn farm at Proserpine. Contributed

Jobs boon from aquaculture expansion

FIFTY extra jobs are set to be created in the Whitsundays after Tassal was given the green light for a stage three expansion at its prawn farm north of Proserpine.

Under the $30 million stage three development, Tassal will add 80 hectares of ponds and new hatchery infrastructure in readiness for stocking the expanded farm next financial year.

Once completed, the expansion will mean the Proserpine farm will have 270 hectares of production ponds.

With 85 hectares of total treatment area after the expansion, Proserpine will have the largest prawn water treatment area in Australia.

The go-ahead for stage three required environmental authority approval by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, aquaculture development approval issued by Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and development approval from Whitsunday Regional Council.

Tassal managing director and chief executive officer Mark Ryan said the expansion would support Tassal's target of generating $25 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in the 2021 financial year.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox said the stage three development of the farm was a win for the Whitsundays.

"It's really good for jobs," he said.

"And really good for the economy."

Cr Willcox said one of the benefits of the prawn farm was that its harvest time was at a different time to both the cane and horticultural harvests - meaning Whitsundays residents would be able to obtain work in different places at different times depending on demand.

"It's a really good industry to have," he said.

"With sugar, tourism, mining and now the aquaculture industry... it's another string to our bow (in the Whitsundays)."

Cr Willcox praised Tassal for their effort.

"We're very fortunate to have operators like that in the Whitsundays," he said.

"The amount of work that's being done and the quality of work... it's a world-class professional outfit."

Mr Ryan said even with this stage three expansion now given the go-ahead, Tassal wanted to expand its Proserpine farm even further.

"We have now commenced the process to obtain approvals for stage four expansion at Proserpine to add a further 70 hectares of additional ponds and new hatchery infrastructure for production in financial year 2022," he said.

"Importantly, the redevelopment program for the existing prawn farm infrastructure of 270 hectares of ponds, including the deployment of smart technology and processing development, continues to be on track to achieve our financial year 2020 forecast of 2400 tonnes of production."


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