Plans to build one of the world’s largest prawn farms on a remote cattle station in the Northern Territory have taken a major step with native title holders supporting the project and signing an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) for its development on Legune Station.
If the ambitious $2 billion project goes ahead at full-scale, up to 100,000 tonnes of black tiger prawns will be produced each year for export.
Project Sea Dragon managing director Chris Mitchell said the ILUA was an important milestone and he expected a final investment decision would be made in the coming three to six months.
He said if all went to plan, construction of stage 1 at Legune would begin next year during the dry season and would be a project that delivered major benefits to the entire region.
“For the area of land it’s a very small footprint, but it creates a very significant export industry for Australia.
“It’s a project which wreaks of opportunity for all sorts of people.”
Northern Land Council CEO, Joe Morrison, who was in Kununurra for the signing, said it was important for Indigenous people to participate in the development of northern Australia and he hoped Project Sea Dragon would deliver a range of benefits.
“Aboriginal people have participated and have negotiated very rigorously some benefits that are beyond just jobs, but some long-term arrangements and support for them to look after their own country.”
The ILUA signed today means the traditional owners of Legune have agreed to suspend their native title for 95 years for an undisclosed amount of compensation.
Mr Morrison described the benefits package as being “very generous” and it included a major jobs package, including the establishment of a ranger group, and a serious regime to protect sacred sites.
Speaking to ABC Rural after signing the ILUA, Bernadette Simon Hall said she was nervous but also excited.
“It means that our younger generations are going to be wealthy in the next 99 years I believe,” she said.
Making the project a reality still requires significant financial backing from investors, but if all goes to plan the first prawns could be ready for export by 2020.
Article Matt Brann Photo Mitchell Woolnough)