Australian company Seafarms has announced its aquaculture venture Project Sea Dragon has entered voluntary administration.
Located in one of the most remote cattle farms in the Northern Territory of Australia, the project involved the staged development of up to 10,000 hectares of prawn production ponds. The farm, intended to become the largest of its kind in Australia, was to be supported by a series of geographically separate facilities across the north of the country.
The Sea Dragon project has been fraught with difficulties since work began on the facility in mid-2021. In March 2022 Seafarms released a report which described Project Sea Dragon as "not viable in its current form", citing "unacceptable risk" in terms of biosecurity, environmental conditions, remote location, and size of grow-out ponds. Shortly afterwards, Seafarms' share price tumbled 42% as a result.
However, in November 2022, Seafarms reaffirmed its commitment to the project, having visited similar overseas operations to establish viability.
"After visiting overseas operations, the Company believes that the previously identified technical risks can be managed," Seafarms CEO Rod Dyer said in a November 2022 statement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
"Our assessment of these farms left us with no doubt that Seafarms could successfully operate 10-hectare ponds with our projected biomass and yield performance," the statement said.
However, financial woes continued to dog the project. Seafarms posted a $75 million loss in 2021-22, while a contractual dispute with the construction company Canstruct cost the company $13.9 million.
Seafarms director Harley Whitcombe said the company's board of directors had determined it was "no longer in the best interests of the company" to continue with the project.
Seafarms Group Ltd is an Australian aquaculture company which operates, builds and invests in sustainable aquaculture production, producing high-quality seafood. Seafarms owns three other aquaculture facilities in Australia, and is among the biggest producers of farmed prawns in the country.