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Seafarms/Sea Dragon Gets Land Use Permit




Native titleholders have signed an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Seafarms for the development of its huge Sea Dragon tiger shrimp farm in northern Australia.  The agreement means the Aboriginal owners of land have agreed to suspend their native title for 95 years (for an undisclosed amount of compensation).


If the ambitious $A2 billion project reaches completion, up to 100,000 tons of giant tiger shrimp will be produced each year for export.


Project Sea Dragon managing director Chris Mitchell said the agreement was an important milestone.  He thinks the final investment decision on the project will be made in the next three to six months.  Mitchell said, “Aboriginal people have participated and have negotiated very rigorously some benefits that are beyond just jobs, including some long-term arrangements and support for them to look after their own country.”  Morrison described the benefits package as being “very generous” and includes a major job package, including the establishment of a ranger group, and a serious regime to protect sacred sites.


Indigenous leader Bernadette Simon Hall is one of the owners of the land.  She said, “I believe...it means that our younger generations are going to be wealthy....”


Making the project a reality still requires significant financial backing from investors, but if all goes according to plan the first shrimp could be ready for export by 2020.


The cost of developing the Sea Dragon Project resulted in a $A19.8 million loss for Seafarms in its 2016/2017 fiscal year.  Seafarms said the loss was within its directors’ expectations.  It said its 2016/2017 revenues were $35.7 million, which included revenues of $29.3 from its shrimp farms in northern Queensland, up 23 percent on the previous year.  Shrimp production was up 42 percent to 1,700 metric tons, sold locally under the “Crystal Bay” brand.


Seafarms said it was unaffected by the whitespot outbreak in southern Queensland, which is 1,200 kilometers south of its farms in northern Queensland.  Nonetheless, it’s continuing surveillance, and no shrimp at any of its farms have tested positive for whitespot.  The company has a market capitalization of $84 million.  It raised $12.6 million in June 2017 from existing and new institutional and retail shareholders.  The Funds are being used to fast track the Sea Dragon project.  At full production, the project will produce up to 150,000 metric tons of giant tiger shrimp a year from 10,000 hectares of production ponds.  All licenses and agreements needed to operate the project are nearing completion.


Information: Chris Mitchell, Seafarms Group Limited, Level 11, 225 St. George’s Terrace, Perth, Western Australia, Australia (Phone +61-8-9321-4111, Fax +61-8-9321-4411, Email info@seafarms.com.au, Webpage http://seafarmsgroup.com.au).

Sources: 1. ABC.Net.Au.  Mega Prawn Farm Project Sea Dragon Nets Indigenous Land Use Agreement in Northern Australia.  Matt Brann.  August 30, 2017.  2. TheWest.com.au.  North West Prawn Farm Costs Hit Seafarms Group.  Jenne Brammer.  August 29, 2017.

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