The aquaculture sector is fast emerging as a potential source of revenue and job creation in the oil-dependent economy of Brunei, with Barramundi Asia, a Singaporean fish farming firm, set to invest BND300 million to rear barramundi, or sea bass, in large cages on Brunei’s open seas.
Barramundi Asia is one of the largest barramundi farming companies in the world which draws on world-class sustainable fish farming practices and aquaculture technology.
Joep Staarman, the Managing Director of Barramundi Asia, stated that the company is building an offshore cage farm to grow kuhlbarra barramundi using technology adopted from salmon farming in Norway. The company chose Brunei for its clean, almost virgin territories, which will make be an advantage for export.
The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) said the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)between the Department of Fisheries and Barramundi Asia Pte Ltd formalised the intention of the company to invest and develop an area of 6,613 hectares at the Nankivell Offshore Aquaculture Site, while establishing a hatchery and a fish nursery capable of supplying high-quality sea bass juveniles to offshore fish cages, in addition to a processing plant.
For the land-based operation, the company would be allocated an area of 21 hectares at Sungai Mangsalut in Kampong Tanah Jambu. The hatchery is expected to be in full operation by 2021, producing 40,000 tonnes of barramundi fish valued at BND300 million per year, which will be exported to Singapore, Australia and Europe.
The company will begin operations by importing disease-free juveniles from Australia which will take three years to grow to four kilograms. Most of the output of the farm will then be exported.
Yamako Pacific Brunei
The local fisheries industry also witnessed a major new development when Yamako Pacific (Brunei) Sdn Bhd, a local seafood processing company specialising in processing yellowfin and skipjack tuna, launched its own processing plant and fishing vessel.
The company launched the processing plant and fishing vessel, Nakhoda 1, in efforts to increase exporting yellowfin tuna to Japan. The company also has plans to export to China, Europe and North America in the near future.
Yamako Pacific (Brunei) Sdn Bhd is a joint venture between Japanese-centric Yamako Pacific group and Brunei.
Nakhoda 1 is an 18-metre, 350 horsepower custom-built vessel which is equipped with the latest technology for sustainable tuna fishing. The vessel is owned by YP Nakhoda, a sister company of Yamako Pacific.
The state-of-the-art processing plant is equipped with Japanese proton freezer technology and cold room facilities, handling up to 10 tonnes of tuna landing and processing 3.5 tonnes of finished products per day. The company invested BND2.5 million into the processing plant and the fishing vessel.
The company also trains local fishermen to maximise the quality and value of the fish they catch, while ensuring that they get fair and transparent international prices for their catch.
With the support from the government, the company is looking to expand its capacity by building a larger facility and acquiring new vessels within the next five years, to cater to the strong international demand worth an estimated export value of BND45 million per annum.
The involvement of Yamako Pacific (Brunei) Sdn Bhd is expected to see an increase to 60 tonnes in fisheries output in 2018, and to 3,600 metric tons by 2022, with an estimated value of BND47 million a year.
The company began exporting products worth BND90,000 to Japan in May 2018, in a trial container. The company is expecting to reach a turnover of BND3 million in 2019, double the figure within the same year and hit BND12 million by 2020.
Brunei is also currently considered one of the largest producers of rostris blue shrimp in the world, thanks to high-technology and computerised farming techniques.
The country is poised to be the world’s largest producer, fast overtaking New Caledonia, a country with a high gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the Asia-Pacific region, and rich in mining and agricultural resources.
The Fisheries Department has set a target to increase aquaculture revenue from BND9 million in 2015 to BND400 million per year by 2020.
MPRT has put in place a five-year strategic plan to increase aquaculture output for export markets, including welcoming proposals and initiatives by companies or farmers wishing to venture into projects to develop new hybrids and open collaboration in areas of applied research and development (R&D).
Golden Corporation Sdn Bhd, one of the major shrimp producers in the country, last year targetted an additional production of at least 2,500 tonnes of blue shrimp when it acquired an additional land lease for a 200-hectare onshore aquaculture farm in Mukim Telisai, Tutong District. It hopes to export to the European Union and Australian markets.
Golden Corporation, together with Semaun Marine Resources Sdn Bhd (SMR), operates the country’s first seafood processing plant at its Multi-Purpose Marine Resources Processing and Business Centre in the Tutong District.
There are also other companies that produce blue shrimps in the country, such as Helif Aquaculture Sdn Bhd that focusses on the local market, especially seafood processing plants. The company’s Farm Marketing Manager Chong Chya said the farm produces around 250 tonnes of shrimps per year at its 16-hectare prawn breeding area in the Mentiri Zone II.
The local market can consume about one metric ton per day, and therefore the majority of the produce in the country should go into exports.
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