21 January 2008
South African empowerment company SeaArk Africa has signed an agreement with the Al Faulk Group of Saudi Arabia, worth R70-million, to develop and remotely manage a commercial-scale pilot project to farm shrimp in that country.
As part of the agreement, SeaArk will develop a commercial pilot plant at the existing open-pond prawn farming facility of the Al Faulk Group in the capital city of Jeddah, to establish the commercial viability of SeaArk’s advanced closed pond technology in farming a Mediterranean brown shrimp variety known as panaeus indicus.
“In Coega in the Eastern Cape we are successfully growing a pacific white shrimp variety known as panaeus vannemai, while in Saudi Arabia we will be farming a species never before grown in a high-tech closed system,” SeaArk President Dave Wills said in a statement.
“Together with our Saudi partners we aim to demonstrate that our innovative mix of science and technology has the ability to grow the Mediterranean prawns they are already farming faster, with a lower food consumption rate, with greater densities, and with higher barriers to infection and loss than in the open ponds they are currently using.”
SeaArk’s patented technology, developed by local and international scientists over 15 years, combines closed specially designed ponds and computer driven control systems with advanced biological science, and is already dramatically changing the way prawn and shrimp are produced around the world.
As with the company’s first international project in Zhanjiang, China, many of SeaArk’s patented processes in the Jeddah pilot project will be run remotely from their Coega research and development centre.
The company’s patented biosecure indoor ponds and nutritional system allow producers to maximise size, growth, survivability and biomass – growing prawns two to three times faster than their competitors.
“The agreement with the Al Faulk Group for the Saudi Arabian pilot plant is another huge vote of confidence in the technology we have brought to market maturity in our Coega plant,” said SeaArk CEO Gavin Watson.
“For the second time following our partnership with the China Direct group, an international roll-out is making a huge contribution to the future of the Coega Industrial Development Zone and the Eastern Cape economy, with a very direct and positive effect on the lives of thousands of families in the surrounding communities, particularly Motherwell.”