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March 13, 2014

Australia

Seafarms Group Battles Regulations

 

Seafarms Group Limited, which hopes to raise as much as $1.3 billion to fund the development of 10,000 hectares of shrimp (Penaeus monodon) ponds that could produce 100,000 metric tons of shrimp annually, has joined a chorus of shrimp farmers in Australia who are calling for a review of the regulatory regime governing the industry in the state of Queensland, which has good conditions and sites for shrimp farms.

 

Seafarms says it wouldn’t contemplate establishing a new shrimp farm in Queensland under the current approval process.  Instead, its huge “Sea Dragon Project” is looking at sites in Western Australia’s Kimberley region and in the Northern Territory.  Dallas Donovan, Seafarms’ chief operations officer, said, “There’s not too many investors that’ll wait ten years to receive an approval that may be largely unworkable.”

 

Shrimp farmers in Australia now produce more than 4,000 metric tons annually with a farm gate value estimated to be more than $63 million.  Yet despite favorable economic conditions, huge global demand for shrimp and Australia’s reputation for producing “clean, green” seafood, Australian shrimp farming is lagging behind the rest of the world.  In fact, not a single new shrimp farm has been approved in the past two decades.

 

Matt West, president of the Australian Prawn Farmers’ Association, says, “We pride ourselves on having the strictest permits in the world.  We abide by them.  But to develop our current industry, it’s very, very difficult to operate with license conditions that are now requiring zero...nutrient discharges.”

 

West points to a proposed $54 million prawn farm in Bowen, Queensland—which, after 12 years, has yet to get off the ground—as an example of the “costly and drawn out” approval process.  The owner is currently in dispute with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority over what it considers are unfair demands that would cost $1.8 million.

 

“We pride ourselves on having the strictest permits in the world.  We abide by them.  But to develop our current industry, it’s very, very difficult to operate with license conditions that are now requiring zero...nutrient discharges,” West said.  “I think it’s very important to note water being discharged from aquaculture farms are entirely assimilated by that local ecosystem.  The current aquaculture industry doesn’t use pesticides, it doesn’t use herbicides, and it doesn’t use antibiotics....” West says it’s become apparent the regulatory environment is stifling investment and confidence by setting the bar higher for shrimp farming than for any other industry or development in Queensland.

 

Source: ABC Rural.  Prawn Farmers Say a Maze of Regulation is Stifling Investment.  March 11, 2014

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