Aquaculture project poised for Guthalungra
BOWEN and the greater Whitsundays region look set to tap into a major aquaculture project worth more than $100 million.
Guthalungra will be the site of a new prawn farm next year which is poised to create more than 200 jobs over two years.
The farm, which will be located about 40 minutes north of Bowen, will create 150 jobs during construction, set to commence during the first quarter of 2019, and 100 more ongoing jobs once operational.
MBD Industries project manager Pete McFarlane said the company would look to Bowen and the Whitsundays to supply staff.
"It's a huge win for the Whitsunday region,” he said.
"We are approaching financial close. We are in the final stages of finalising conditions which includes a detailed design of the farm which will be completed in coming weeks.”
The privately funded project will mark the first prawn farm built in 20 years in Queensland and has an estimated lifespan of 30-50 years.
Mr McFarlane said the region offered the perfect location for a new prawn farm due to its ideal climate.
"Firstly the isolation offers a great benefit in terms of biosecurity. It's clean and disease free and possesses pristine water from the (Great) Barrier Reef Marine Park,” he said.
"There is not much habitation in the area so it gives the stock the best environment it possibly can.”
The farm will operate next to an existing hatchery which feeds a farm at Alva Beach.
Once complete the hatchery will supply baby prawns to the facility which will be farmed across 220 ponds spanning 3km end-to-end. Water from the ponds will be replaced and filtered back into the reef in better condition.
Mr McFarlane said with an ongoing push for sustainably grown seafood, the future of aquaculture is looking very promising.
"We want to be a big part of the community going forward and this diversifies the jobs in the region and stops people having to rely on the coal mines or farming.
"It gives them another opportunity to go and do something. We think it's a great winner for the region,” he said.
Bowen Collinsville Enterprise chairman Paul McLaughlin said BCE supported the diversity of industries in the Whitsunday region.
He said it was great to see MBD moving forward with the expansions options for the prawn farm at Guthalungra.
"They operate a very successful operation in Ayr and a very successful hatchery at Guthalungra so they're a proven company with runs on the road,” he said.
"This new project will create hundreds of jobs for our region and BCE will work with MBD to assist in any way we can.”