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Sabah may apply seaweed tissue culture technology

MALAYSIA - Sabah is looking to the possibility of applying seaweed tissue culture technology perfected by Taiwanese scientists to improve production efficiency in its fledgling seaweed farming industry.

Dr Linus Yang Chih Pin, a tissue culture professor at National Taiwan University, and Dr Wu Yi Yen, a water quality and effluent treatment specialist, briefed Fisheries officers and aquaculture company executives here Monday on the desirability of using fine science in enhancing not only productivity but also sustainable supply of raw seaweed for downstream processing.

Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP), Sabah has been given the entire mandate to produce 250,000 metric tonnes of seaweed by 2010.

This means it must quickly muster the capacity to increase production by five folds in a matter of four yeas, since its current output hovers between 40,000 and 50,000 metric tonnes per year, about four per cent of global output, said Rooney Biusing, Assistant Director of the Sabah Fisheries Department.

However, the financial support to augment production is not likely to be an issue since the Federal Government has "identified" seaweed farming as a 'high impact project', where it is going to get high priority treatment and emphasis, Biusing said.

Sabah's problem isn't lack of market but lack of raw materials.

It is understood that the State's only two Semporna and Lahad Datu-based seaweed processing mills for 'semi refined caragenaan' (SRC) for export to Japan, UK, USA, China and Korea, are operating at only 50 per cent capacity because of severe shortage in seaweed supplies, according to Biusing.

Sabah is, therefore, looking for application of "fine technology" with regards to seaweed culture to improve production.

"In particular, we are looking at the production of high-quality seaweed seedlings which feature high gel strength, faster growth rate and resistant to disease as well," he said.

A key strategy is to improve farm technology, said Biusing.

Source: Daily Express