Bandar Seri Begawan - The Fisheries Department is spearheading an effort to attain more than 100 per cent self-sufficiency in fish production from the present figure of 86 per cent, thus reducing the importation of fish from abroad.
"86 per cent is sufficient but still not satisfactory where there's a need to produce more than 100 per cent. But marketing and production are uncertain as it depends on the weather," said the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar at the ninth day of the Legislative Council (LegCo) session.
"If we can attain more than 100 per cent, we can use the rest for processing and to make it value-added. But I can't promise you when we can achieve this," he added.
The minister was responding to YB Hj Tahamit bin Hj Nudin who said that we rely heavily on importation as well as YB HjIumat bin Akim's query who also said 86 per cent of the country's demand on fish and seafood resources has been met as announced by the minister during the opening of the Farmers and Fishermen Day.
There are several factors where opportunities have been opened up and have received support from the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.
Meanwhile, the minister also revealed a new source of business for local SMEs to tap in, which is the production of fish seedlings.
"Currently, this is a challenge to produce vast amount of fish seedlings and I called on SMEs to strive as the producer of fish seedlings and not just looking for big fish.
"This would reduce their risk to several months only which they could later sell to entrepreneurs. This is the business that they can tap into where the risk and investment are short. It is a business by itself as the risk is reduced but the return is high," the minister said.
SMEs should focus their finance by establishing centres to produce fish seedlings as we are in short supply at the moment. The demand is higher than supply. Rather than waiting for such fish seedlings from the Fisheries Department hatching in Serasa where the quality is also unknown, it is appropriate for SME's to make an effort towards fish hatching and later sell to fish entrepreneurs. Feed meal is also another opportunity to tap into.
The minister was responding to YB Hj Mohd Shafiee bin Ahmad's query on freshwater fish breeding in cage or in container with limited funds to run as well as lack of expertise in running such businesses and the inadequate fish seedlings were found to be among the constraints and failure for such project.
The minister added that trash fish is also in demand nowadays: The government-owned Semaun Holdings and Golden Corporation from South Korea are spearheading this business. Trash fish used to have no commercial value but nowadays it could be taken by businesses to make fish paste. Such cooperation also provides other sorts of businesses like feed meal to the market.
Such a project with the Korean company is ongoing and a consultation is underway. A hub has been identified in Serasa for processing needs to be marketed to Korea. Besides these, there are also efforts to export monodon prawn to South Korea through a joint venture. But it is still under surveillance. He was responding to YB Hj Mohd Shafiee's query on such a joint project.
On turtle conservation as raised by YB Awg Hj Ramli bin Hj Lahit, several turtles can't be traded as stated in CITES. Effort now is to increase the number of species that need to be saved. We are identifying species that should be incorporated in the appendix. Less turtle eggs are found nowadays and there is a need to increase egg-laying.
We have to admit that there is inadequate staff at the Fisheries Department judging by our vast shoreline. Efforts are being made by providing more boats which can cover more than 100 km of Brunei waters.
On boat landing sites for fishermen in Tutong as raised by YB Orang Kaya Maha Bijaya Awg Hj Othman bin Uking, the minister said a budget has been allocated subject to approval by the council.
On the issue raised by YB Hj Jumat bin Akim on potential for fish farming at Mukim Lumapas, the minister said he will ask officers at his ministry to look into this whether it is appropriate or otherwise.
Asked on fishing license extension as raised by YB Hj Jumat bin Akim, the minister said it has been extended to every one year basis and no longer every three months.
On freezing of fishing licence and activities (or moratorium) at zone 1 or shallow area from 0-to 3km offshore as raised by YB Awg Hj Mohd Yusof bin Hj Dulamin, the minister said such a move is made to allow fish to grow to enhance the richness of species and to prevent stock-taking of fish.
"The area within 0 to 3km is considered hatching site. I can't promise that such area would be opened again or to make it available for fishermen even for a short time. This is the country's food source and not merely for the interest of the fishermen themselves."
As for artificial reef, we have stopped using tyres as it could affect the marine species. Malaysia also no longer encourages used tyres but instead found other ways.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin