BRUNEI-MUARA — Yamako pacific is calling for more locals to venture into tuna fishing, as it looks to train businesses in sustainable fishing methods to directly increase its exports.

According to the company’s director, Rafiuddin Ghazali,  they now buy tuna from 10 local fishing companies who regularly supply to them, since Yamako currently only has one fishing vessel.

“Local companies [have been] trained and technology transferred on catching good quality tuna, which in turn, have been paid for with international pricing,” he said, adding that it wants  more locals to go into tuna fishing as it is willing to pay for their catch with “fair pricing”.

Since it launched operations in April this year, the local joint venture company has already shipped out six containers of tuna to Japan and is eyeing export to China in the near future.

“At the moment, 100 per cent of our exports are skipjack tuna, because that has been the main catch and we have found a Japanese buyer for this type of tuna,” said Rafiuddin.

Skipjack tuna are usually found on the surface, hence make up the bulk of the company’s catch. For bigger tuna such as the yellowfin and bigeye, the company relies on pole and line fishing methods.

“We’ve also been supplying [yellowfin and bigeye] tuna to local businesses, including restaurants,” Rafiuddin said.

A yellowfin tuna waiting to be processed at the Yamako Pacific plant in Muara, Photo: Hadthiah Hazair/ The Scoop

He disclosed that the company will add two new fishing vessels — Nahkoda 2 and Nahkoda 3 — in hopes to reel in more yellowfin and bigeye.

Its current vessel,  Nahkoda 1, is able to be out at sea five days at a time with a catch capacity of five tonnes per trip. With tuna selling at US$4 per kilo, that would amount to a potential catch of US$20,000 each trip.

In a previous interview, managing director of Yamako Pacific, Alex Yeunh Oi Siong, said the pole and line fishing method is the most encouraged way of catching fish. ” Unlike net fishing, we are only targeting tuna… With our high-tech fish finder, we know even before we drop the line if there is tuna.”

The company releases smaller catch that do not meet the requirement and this will ensure that it does not deplete the tuna population in Brunei waters.

Yamako Pacific Sdn Bhd is part of a wider group of Yamako Pacific companies in the region, a Japanese-centric group that engages local industry players. The company invests in teaching local fishermen how to maximise the quality and value of the fish they catch whilst also paying them fair, international pricing.