In an agreement worth R70-million at current exchange rates, SeaArk will develop a commercial pilot plant at the existing open-pond prawn farming facility of the Saudi Arabian Al Faulk Group in Jeddah.
"The pilot project will establish the commercial viability of SeaArk's advanced closed pond technology in farming a Mediterranean brown shrimp variety known as panaeus indicus," the company said in a statement.
Perfected in South Africa after 15 years of research in the US and locally, the biosecure technology to be deployed in the Al Faulk pilot project is the same as used by SeaArk at its Coega facility.
High-tech giant prawn farming facilitySea Ark Africa is 100 percent owned by the Bosasa Group of Companies and last December announced its decision to fully develop a 1200-hectare high-tech giant prawn farming facility employing 11000 people at Coega following its own very successful pilot phase.
"In Coega 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," said SeaArk President Dave Wills.
"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 higher barriers to infection and loss than in the in open ponds they are currently using."
As with the company's first international project in the Zhanjiang economic development zone in China announced last December, many of Sea Ark's patented processes in the Jeddah pilot project will be run remotely from Coega.
"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.
A huge contribution to the future of the Coega IDZ and the Eastern Cape economy"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 IDZ 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," he said.
Sea Ark Africa's Coega plant is the company's International Centre providing ongoing research and development to a global family of SeaArk operations.
SeaArk Africa's parent company, Bosasa, is a diversified Broad Based Black Economic Empowered organisation with a national footprint.
An economic impact study has shown that besides creating 11 000 largely semi-skilled and unskilled direct jobs when the project has grown to full maturity in six years, Sea Ark's Coega facility has the ability to generate 88 000 indirect employment opportunities in a range of support services and industries ranging from transport to catering for the workforce, security, and construction and maintenance.
"Besides 1000 jobs for women in the prawn processing facility to be built as part of Sea Ark's 11 000 job rollout, there will be significant numbers of skilled posts for laboratory technicians, marine biologists, software specialists, and engineers," the company said.