BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei’s aquaculture sector is projected to see a volume increase of almost 3,000 metric tonnes by 2020, following the signing of two agreements between the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) and Singapore-Based Barramundi Asia (B) Sdn Bhd.

Barramundi Asia (B) Sdn Bhd will be developing 6,613 hectares at Nankivell Offshore Aquaculture Site and an area of 25.1 hectares located in Kampung Meragang for high-quality hatchery and fish nursery for the production of seabass juveniles to be supplied to the offshore fish cages.

The project, which will operate at full capacity by 2032, carries a total investment value of $300 million, with Barramundi Asia’s off-shore and land-based sites estimated to increase the volume of aquaculture marine fish production about 2,700 metric tonnes in 2020, valued at $24 million.

By 2032, this number is expected to jump to 36,000 metric tonnes a year, equivalent to $324 million.

The Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) signed two agreements on Sea License Agreement and Lease Agreement with Barramundi Asia (B) Sdn Bhd on Thursday, May 3, 2019. Acting Director of Fisheries, Mariani Hj Sabtu (R) signs the agreements on behalf of the Department of Fisheries, while Barramundi Asia (B) Sdn Bhd was represented by their General Manager, Eva Lim (L). Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

According to MPRT,  the company will be investing $18 million in phase one for the culture of barramundi or seabass in offshore cages in Brunei and will be adopting advanced technologies and sustainable practices. At the conclusion of phase one by the year 2024, the project is expected to produce 4,000 metric tonnes of barramundi fish.

“This project [shows] that fish farming is fast becoming one of the major economic player in our region and the world and in this particular case, economically and socially beneficial for both Brunei and Singapore,” said MPRT Permanent Secretary Pg Hj Kamarudzaman Pg Hj Ishak.

Additionally, it will also create 100 jobs for locals, allow transfer of new technologies and know-how, help strengthen fisheries in Brunei’s bio-security agenda and increase fisheries export contribution to the economy.

A board of director member for Barramundi Asia, Andrew Kwan, in an interview with the media said the agreements show its long term commitment to the investment as “it is at least for a period of 30 years, with another 30 years extension”.

“Brunei was chosen as the site for the project because of its pristine tropical water and good current flow. The Brunei government have been very supportive of this initiative,” he added.

“As the population continues to grow rapidly from seven to nine billion between now to the year 2030, you will find that there will be a challenge in getting good animal protein. Barramundi fish is well loved in all of Southeast Asia, so we believe our target market is primarily… Asian market.”

During the signing last week, Acting Director of Fisheries Mariani Hj Sabtu signed the agreements on behalf of the Department of Fisheries, while Barramundi Asia (B) Sdn Bhd was represented by its General Manager Eva Lim.