Sarawak is capable of producing about four million empurau (mahseer) fish fry within five years through cooperation in research and development (R&D) with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang said RM4.5 million had been allocated by the federal government for empurau R&D in Sarawak, besides another RM1.3 million from MOSTI.
“The empurau fish, also known as kelah in the peninsula, is an exotic fish with a high market value of around RM800 per kilogram while in China, a live empurau can fetch the equivalent of RM1,200 per kg,” he said after opening a workshop on empurau strategic research plan, here, Tuesday.
Jabu, who is also state Agriculture and Modernisation Minister, said with the establishment of the empurau research and breeding centre in Tarat, Serian, more R&D activities could be done on different species of the fish according to the rivers in which they exist.
He said with the support of the federal government, especially MOSTI, there could be more collaboration in developing technology and expertise towards commercialising the empurau fish.
Jabu also said that a major plan had been drawn up to breed the empurau and other fish species in the Bakun Dam area so that their numbers would not decline.
“Our officers from Tarat and I will be going to Bakun to obtain several fish species from there to bring them to the Tarat centre for research and breeding purposes before the fishes are set free in their original habitat.”
Jabu said Sarawak had also received an allocation of RM4.2 million from the federal government for R&D of the terubuk (shad) fish.
He was confident that Sarawak could be a major producer of aquaculture products worth RM9 billion by 2015.
Eleven working papers will be presented by local scientists at the three-day workshop.