Mackay-Whitsunday aquaculture projects to net up to 1000 jobs

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By Milthon Lujan

Australia – The Mackay-Whitsunday region is a step closer to becoming a major Australian aquaculture hub with $257 million of investment by leading national seafood company Tassal Group set to create up to 1000 jobs.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visited the Tassal’s Gregory River Prawn Farm north of Proserpine today where an $85 million expansion program is underway and to deliver further good news for the company’s next big project.

“Approvals for Stage 4 expansion of Tassal Group’s existing facility near Proserpine were recently granted meaning construction can now start creating 100 construction jobs and further boosting operational jobs,” the Premier said.

“This is part of an $85 million programme that demonstrates Tassal Group’s confidence in investing in our State.

“And in further good news, today I can announce the Coordinator-General has declared Tassal Group’s $172 million project at Exmoor Station, north west of Mackay, a coordinated project which means a full environmental impact assessment (EIS) of the project can now begin.

“If approved this project will follow the full development of the Proserpine expansion and would create Queensland’s largest land-based aquaculture facility.

“Combined, these projects are expected to produce around 10,000 tonnes of prawns per annum from 2026 – doubling the existing prawn aquaculture industry in Queensland.

“That’s $257 million investment in North Queensland prawn farming set to create up to 1000 jobs and has the potential for significant flow-on effects right along the supply chain for businesses across the whole region.

“Queensland has the potential to become the capital of global aquaculture which would be a major industry in the region which means local jobs.

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“My government is committed to working with the private sector to grow industries that will create jobs for Queenslanders which is more important now more than ever as we unite and recover from the global pandemic.”

State Development Minister Kate Jones said the Exmoor Station Prawn Farm is proposed within the Mackay aquaculture development area (ADA), one of six ADAs designated by the Palaszczuk Government and announced in January 2019 to attract growth in aquaculture.

“Tassal Group already has one prawn farm near Mission Beach in Far North Queensland and another just north of Exmoor Station, at Proserpine in Central Queensland,” she said.

“Tassal Group’s plans to further expand its Queensland production footprint into the Mackay ADA at Exmoor Station would deliver the state’s largest land-based aquaculture facility with state-of-the-art hatchery, nursery and processing facilities.

“The facility is also proposed to feature up to 1000 hectares of production ponds.”

The next step in the assessment process is for the Coordinator-General to prepare a draft terms of reference for the environmental impact statement (EIS) and invite the community to have their say on what the EIS must address.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said aquaculture was the world’s fastest growing food industry.

“This is why we set our goal of making Queensland the aquaculture capital of the world, so we can attract millions of dollars’ worth of investment and create jobs for hundreds more Queenslanders,” Mr Furner said.

“In 2019 we set out to reel in new projects by designating six aquaculture development areas (ADAs) throughout the state and that’s what’s happening.

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“This includes the Mackay ADA where Tassal Group is planning to convert Exmoor Station, a former cattle property, into Queensland’s largest aquaculture facility.”

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert welcomed the announcement saying her number one priority was to develop industries that will create jobs for locals,

“I’m a huge supporter of this proposal. Not only would it pump millions into our economy – it would create hundreds of local jobs,” she said.

“Aquaculture is a growth industry. This is a sustainable sector that has huge potential for Mackay and the Whitsundays in the future.”

Tassal Group’s Head of Supply Chain and Commercial Services Ben Daley said the company was pleased to be expanding Queensland’s aquaculture industry, creating economic and jobs growth that would benefit regional Queensland.

“We look forward to continuing working with the Queensland Government on our plans to further develop the industry’s enormous potential,” he said.

“Queensland produces some of Australia’s best seafood and we’re confident there’s a bright future in increasing locally grown produce. We plan to meet growing demand from Australian consumers as well as selected overseas markets for a great tasting, quality product.

“It’s predicted that by 2026, the Mackay-Whitsunday Tassal Group facilities could be producing a combined output of about 10,000 tonnes of prawns annually to help meet growing domestic demand and to further develop export markets.”

Projects and jobs

– 100 new jobs are expected to start flowing during Stage 4 construction of Tassal Group’s expansion of its existing prawn farm at Proserpine now through to mid-2022.
– Another 60 ongoing operational jobs are expected to be added to the existing local workforce of 244 when production reaches full capacity, set for August 2022.
– Tassal Group estimates Exmoor Station Prawn Farm could create another 100 construction jobs following the completion of Proserpine farm expansion and generate 620 operational jobs.

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