Brunei fish yield very low

National 2 minutes, 20 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

BRUNEI's yield from fish culture is still low compared to what it can potentially produce, the Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources said at a seminar yesterday.

Hjh Amsah Hj Saman said there are 58 fish culture operators in the country who have collectively produced 60 metric tonnes of fish so far this year.

"This production is still at a low level compared to the potential production that it should be at, which is as much as 220 metric tonnes," she said.

In rectifying the situation, the acting deputy permanent secretary said that the Fisheries Department is planning to expand off-shore fish cage culture operations.

An aquaculture research specialist from the Philippines who is working with the department shared that one operator is already holding talks to establish a significant number of off-shore fish cages, which is hoped to realise the country's potential fish production.

Augustus Avillanosa said that the company, whose name he did not wish to disclose as it is still in the planning stages, could introduce some 150 units of floating "round cages".

"If the off-shore cages become operational, then hopefully we can reach 200 metric tonnes or more of fish," he told The Brunei Times during the Fish Culture Management Seminar at the Orchid Garden Hotel.

Avillanosa said that high-density polyethylene (HDPE) round cages, with a diameter of 13 metres, has the capacity to accommodate more than 10,000 fish at one time. The potential production can be achieved with on-shore cages, he said, however, the problem was that a majority of the operators only stock a few species of fish and they have limited the number of cages they operate.

For example, the department recommended they have 40 units but they can only operate 20 since it was too costly for some operators to build the cages. The off-shore cages, he said, were much larger than the on-shore wooden ones and thus, needed less units to accommodate the same amount of fish.

By the end of 2009, fish production is expected to reach more than 80 metric tonnes, he said. As of July 2009, about half of the fish cage operators culture seabass as their main stock and the majority use wooden cages, said Avillanosa. However, trevally and red snapper have recently increased in popularity due to their taste. This has pushed up prices for these species. "They are now starting to stock on these two (fish species)," he said. The fisheries director could not be immediately reached for comment. Apart from the expansion into off-shore fish cages, the department has also embarked on the Ecological Recirulation Aquaculture System (ERAS) project on a 40-hectare site in Sg Paku. The park aims to produce 5,000 tonnes of high-value fish yearly on land-based fish farms, according to a past report.

The Brunei Times