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Projects Ensure Supply For Fish Cage Culture

BRUNEI - Fish cage culture operators are experiencing losses by relying on the supplies of fish fingerlings from abroad, which is inconsistent and insufficient. The quality of the supplies is also not guaranteed.

In its efforts to overcome this problem, the Fisheries Department has started projects to produce local fish fingerlings such as the recent partnership with Semaun Marine Resources Sdn Bhd in Kuala Tutong. This project, which commenced in February 2008, has the capacity to generate 30,000 to 40,000 'selungsong' fish fingerlings every month.

This was disclosed by Pg Hjh Mariana bte Pg Dipa Negara Laila Diraja Pg Haji Abd Momin, Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Primary and Industry Resources (MIPR), who was the guest of honour during the opening of the seminar on Management of Fish Cage Culture yesterday at Kiulap Plaza Hotel. The seminar sought to increase the fish cage culture operators' understanding of managing fish, particularly the well-being of fish in cages.

Pg Hjh Mariana highlighted that the project requires not only skilled and specialised expertise but also a suitable location in order to succeed. The project aims to fulfil the local demand and lessen the local fish culture operators' dependence on imported fingerlings.

Local production, as of now, fulfil about 70 per cent of domestic demand for various fishes that can be found in the waters of Brunei, including fishes for rearing. This data, however, does not include demand for processed fish commodity and fishes with "minimal population" in Brunei waters.

Future development plans for the Department of Fisheries to ensure continuous supply of fingerlings in the country include offering hatching facilities through RKN 2007-2012, said Pg Hjh Mariana.

She also spoke of the importance of gaining knowledge in the management of diseases in fish farming amongst entrepreneurs in order to minimise the risk of loss in produce, to increase income of traders as well as to contribute to the economy of the country.

She said that production from the fisheries sector, though still at a minimal level, stood at 39 metric tonnes, valued at $390,000 in 2007, which has the potential to expand and be profitable.

There are currently 44 companies involved and another 19 companies who were issued a licence during the month of February 2008.

"The fisheries sector is one of the main components towards guaranteeing continuous food supply in the country," said Pg Hjh Mariana.

"It plays a role in ensuring the continuity of fish sustainability, contributing to the income of entrepreneurs and the economy of the country, opening up employment opportunities, benefiting from foreign currency exchange through trading as well as securing the marine environment."

The Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, through the Department of Fisheries, as an agency which handles the development of the fisheries sector, has a vision which is 'Sustainable fisheries and competitiveness contributes towards economic diversification'.

The fisheries industry comprises three sectors, that is capturing, aquaculture and seafood processing, which aims to contribute a total of $400 million per year to the country's GDP by year 2023.

The Acting Permanent Secretary stated that the aquaculture sector is expected to have a huge potential for success and strategies are in the framework to increase fish culture produce.

This includes the opening of new fish farming area, promoting advanced technology in fish farming, optimising the use of available sites, using species of prawns or fishes that do not carry any diseases as well as advancing the services available to operators.

Ellen Hardy

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