Brunei tuna set to cross the seas, rake in millions

|     James Kon     |

YAMAKO Pacific (Brunei) Sdn Bhd, a local seafood processing company that specialises in processing yellowfin and skipjack tuna into high quality products, yesterday launched its processing plant and fishing vessel.

With this, yellowfin tuna caught in the waters of Brunei will be heading to Japan soon. The company has also plans to export its tuna products such as block sashimi and minced tuna meat to China, Europe and North America in the near future.

Located at the Fish Landing Complex in Muara, the tuna processing plant and the fishing vessel named Nakhoda 1 were launched by Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism, Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong.

Also in attendance at the event were Japanese Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, Motohiko Kato and senior officials from various government agencies.

Yamako Pacific (Brunei) Sdn Bhd is part of the wider group of Yamako Pacific companies in the region, a Japanese-centric group with a proven reputation of working with and upgrading local industry players to international standards. The company trains local fishermen how to maximise the quality and value of the fish they catch and ensures they get fair and transparent international prices for their catch.

With the involvement of Yamako Pacific (Brunei) Sdn Bhd, the fisheries output is expected to increase to 60 metric tonnes by this year and to 3,600 metric tonnes by 2022 with an estimated value of BND47 million a year.

Managing Director of Yamako Pacific Group, Alex Yeunh said, “We have invested BND2 million in setting up the plant and another half a million for Nakhoda 1.”

Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism, Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, launching the fishing vessel
Managing Director of Yamako Pacific Group, Alex Yeunh, at the event. – PHOTOS: JAMES KON

The state-of-the-art processing plant is equipped with Japanese proton freezer technology and cold room facilities. It can handle 10 tonnes of tuna landing and process 3.5 tonnes of finished products per day.

Nakhoda 1 is an 18-metre, 350 horsepower custom-built vessel and is equipped with latest technologies for sustainable tuna fishing. The Vessel is owned by YP Nakhoda Sdn Bhd, a sister company of Yamako Pacific.

“We will start exporting products worth BND90,000 to Japan next month in a trial container. We are expecting to reach a turnover of BND3 million by next year, double the figure in 2019 and hit BND12 million by 2020,” Yeunh said.

Yamako Pacific (Brunei) and YP Nakhoda have also begun hiring Bruneians from local vocational schools, starting with an initial fulltime workforce of 50 and 30 part time workers with the plan to grow it to 200 in the next three years. With the support from the Brunei 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.

Asked about the reasons for choosing Brunei, he said, “Firstly, we were encouraged by the proactive support by the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism which has been very helpful in business processing like licensing. The current minister is very aggressively pursuing a policy to create a sustainable and modern tuna industry and we are here to support that.

“Secondly, we found that the fishing community has not had any processing plant, so we wanted to provide value addition to their catch. Brunei has its own exclusive economic zones and natural resources and we are helping to make full use of those facilities and resources,” Yeunh said.

“Nakhoda 1 uses pole-and-line tuna fishing technology which is a simple and eco-friendly method using a hook attached to a pole where no other marine life is harmed in the process. The practice has earned praise from the Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism,” he added.

Yeunh conveyed his thanks to the Government of Brunei, especially the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, for its proactive attitude of encouraging investment into the country.