Brunei Darussalam’s fisheries sector has exhibited robust growth over the past two decades. The sector’s gross output grew at an average annual rate of 5.8 per cent, from BND68.89 million in 2002 to BND211.2 million in 2022. In 2020, the sector witnessed a substantial upswing primarily attributed to the aquaculture industry’s growth, driven by the introduction of white shrimp in 2019. The following years 2021 and 2022 saw a continued rise in output across all industries within the sector — capture fisheries, aquaculture, and fish processing. This culminated in an overall increase in gross output.

The capture fisheries sector contributed significantly to this growth. With a commendable annual increase of 3.4 per cent, the sector’s output grew from BND61.03 million in 2002 to BND118.12 million in 2022. Notably, the capture fisheries output in 2022 reached 18,178 metric tonnes, attributed to an increasing number of small-scale fishermen from 1,755 in 2020 to 5,936 in 2022. This expansion was facilitated by the implementation of the fish aggregating devices (FADs) deployment project in 2019, resulting in increased marine resources.

The aquaculture industry has also demonstrated remarkable growth. The industry’s gross output grew at an average annual rate of 13.6 per cent, from BND3.73 million in 2002 to BND48.12 million in 2022. The industry’s production in 2022 amounted to 6,018 metric tonnes.

Also playing a pivotal role in the overall sectoral growth is the seafood processing industry. With an annual increase of 12.7 per cent, the industry’s gross output grew from BND4.13 million in 2002 to BND44.96 million in 2022.

The seafood processing industry’s production output reached 4,823 metric tonnes in 2022, fuelled by the availability of ample raw materials from capture fisheries and aquaculture.

Influx of FDI

The fisheries sector has witnessed a consistent rise in exports since 2017, driven by the growing shipment of live fish to Hong Kong and China. In 2022, the export value maintained its upward trajectory, reaching a substantial gross output of BND54.07 million. This is a 16 per cent increase from 2021.

Integral to this expansion is the influx of foreign direct investment (FDI), as prominent overseas aquaculture and capture fisheries enterprises establish their presence in Brunei, with the export market as their primary demographic. Headquartered in China, Hiseaton Foods is a key player in Brunei’s aquaculture sector, operating one of the country’s pioneering large-scale fish farming enterprises.

In June 2016, Hiseaton Foods commenced its operations in Brunei by establishing a local subsidiary Hiseaton Fisheries (B) Sdn Bhd. Operating over 2,000 hectares of sea off the coast of the Sultanate, Hiseaton is mainly engaged with farming golden pompano, grouper, cobia and barramundi.

Barramundi Asia (B) Sdn Bhd originating from Singapore is another noteworthy FDI firm that has channelled investments into the country’s aquaculture sector. The company is a top barramundi producer that is leading integrated sustainable aquaculture in the region.

In March 2023, the company signed an agreement with Ben Foods (B) Sdn Bhd for the nationwide distribution of Barramundi Group’s Kühlbarra products. Kühlbarra is the brand name of the group’s sustainably and oceangrown barramundi fish, now also produced in Brunei.

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