Brunei, Singapore enter agreement to set up state-of-the-art sea bass hatchery

|    Azlan Othman   |

BRUNEI Darussalam and Singapore signed a multi-million dollar contract to set up a world class hatchery and nursery for the production of juvenile barramundi (Asian sea bass) in the country for supply to offshore fish cages yesterday.

Two agreements were signed by the Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism with Barramundi Asia (B) Sdn Bhd as part of the contract: the Sea Licence Agreement and Land Lease Agreement.

Member of the Board of Directors of Barramundi Asia Andrew Kwan pointed out that sea bass is a well-loved fish in Southeast Asia, and there is a natural demand for the fish.

“As the global population grows rapidly from seven to nine billion, between now and 2030, we found out that (the need for) good animal protein will also be there. Sea bass is primarily for the Southeast Asian market,” he said.

Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong and High Commissioner of the Republic of Singapore to Brunei Darussalam Lim Hong Huai were present at the event.

Under the contract, Barramundi Asia is officially granted licences to initiate their intention to develop a 6,613-hectare area at the Nankivell Offshore Aquaculture Site and a 25.1-hectare site located at Lot 6054 in Kampong Meragang.

The company will be investing BND18 million for phase one of the project for the culture of barramundi in offshore cages in Brunei, and will be adopting the advanced technologies and sustainable aquaculture husbandry and farming practices employed in Europe.

At the conclusion of phase one, the project is expected to produce 4,000 metric tonnes of barramundi by 2024.

Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Apong and High Commissioner of the Republic of Singapore to Brunei Darussalam Lim Hong Huai in a group photo with officials from Enterprise Singapore and Barramundi Asia. – AZLAN OTHMAN

The farm will gradually increase its production to 36,000 metric tonnes by the year 2032, achieving a biomass worth over BND324 million, once the company is running at maximum operational capacity.

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism Pengiran Haji Kamalrudzaman bin Pengiran Haji Mohd Ishak said the project will be economically and socially beneficial for both Brunei and Singapore.

“From Brunei’s perspective, this project will receive a substantive foreign direct investment into the aquaculture industry and will boost the country’s total fisheries production significantly by 2032,” he said.

“This project will also create about 100 jobs for locals and will increase the contribution of fisheries exports to the economy as well as create many spin-off businesses in Brunei, for example in the logistics and services sectors.

“The project is set to prove that fish farming is fast becoming one of the major economic players in our region and the world, and in this particular case, prove to be economically and socially beneficial for both Brunei and Singapore.”

The permanent secretary added that from the Brunei perspective, the commencement of the project will also transfer new technologies and knowhow to the country; help strengthen the country’s fisheries sector and help meet its bio-security agenda; increase fisheries export contribution to the economy; as well as create spin-off businesses in Brunei, such as in the logistics and services sectors.

“The agreement is a long-term investment and commitment made by Barramundi Asia for at least 30 years, with the possibility of another 30 years of extension. We will be producing fish about four kilogrammes in size to the domestic and overseas markets,” Andrew Kwan told the media yesterday.

“It is an infrastructural project and it provides an opportunity in the aquaculture industry and educates those in aquaculture. We look forward together with the Brunei government to a fantastic success.

“The real work begins after this by putting water in different sea cages. We will also start building the nursery as fish grow in three ways, from fries to fingerlings (and a size when they are ready for) transferring to seawater.”

Kwan added, “The sea currents here in Brunei (are conducive to culturing sea bass), so too is the cleanliness of the waters, which provides good conditions for the fish to grow. (The country’s tropical waters are also good for rearing) barramundi. Good current flow is also needed for optimum oxygenation, which is good for the fish.”

Signing the agreement on behalf of the Fisheries Department, Brunei Darussalam was Acting Director of Fisheries Mariani binti Haji Sabtu.

Barramundi Asia General Manager Eva Lim signed on behalf of Barramundi Asia.

Chief Financial Officer of Barramundi Asia Liew Kou Yew and Head of Aquaculture Industry Development Division at the Department of Fisheries Hajah Rosinah binti Haji Yussof witnessed the signings.

Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Food Agency Lim Kok Thai, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Singapore Ted Tan, permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries, senior government officials, and officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economy and DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) were also present at the signing ceremony.