Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Plan to breed deep-ocean fish

Deep-ocean fish like cod and salmon bred in fish farms nationwide? This may not be far-fetched. The Malaysian Fisheries Development Board (LKIM) has tapped Dutch technology to promote captive breeding of sea fish.

Utilising the high-tech fish-farming technique, common tropical seawater fish such as pomfret can also be bred on a large scale.

LKIM chairman Adam Hamid said a pilot project would be launched at Bagan Lalang in Sepang, Selangor, in May.

Malaysia will be the third country after Australia and Brunei to adopt the method, which is set to revolutionise the aquaculture industry.

"What is unique about this is that fishermen need not depend on the seas for their daily catch," he said.

Adam said fish produced through such a method could be classified as "organic fish" as they complied with the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) standard.

Products with HACCP accreditation are guaranteed free from chemicals, pollutants or antibiotics.

Adam said as there was a huge market for such fish in Europe, LKIM was keen to develop the project nationwide

"The Terengganu Government has set aside RM20 million to start the project," he said.

Under this method, fibreglass tanks, measuring six by 10 metres and 1.5m deep, are placed in enclosed buildings and filled with filtered underground water.

The building’s temperature will be controlled to suit the types of fish reared, while the harvest schedule is programmed to meet demand.

He said salt would be gradually added to the tanks two weeks before the harvest to replicate the chemistry of seawater.

"For a start, we will install eight tanks to rear barramundi, a tropical salt-water fish which has a huge demand in Europe.

"It takes only four months to harvest, which is half the time of conventional breeding methods.

"It also means huge savings in fish food as only a kilo of pellets is needed to achieve a kilo of fish weight, unlike the conventional method which needs two kilos."

The pilot farm, he said, would have four tanks in each of the two buildings, with the capacity to produce 150 tonnes of barramundi a year.

It will be a joint venture between LKIM subsidiary Majuikan Sdn Bhd and Australia-based Fish Protech Pte Ltd, under a 60:40 profit-sharing agreement.

Next year, LKIM will breed the gede perch, which is rich in fish oil and Omega 3 fatty acids.

Source : New Straits Times Online

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