Banking on tuna, Yamako Pacific

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Waqiuddin Rajak

YAMAKO Pacific is looking to spend a total USD 7 million ($9 million) to establish its tuna fishing and processing businesses in the sultanate, following its initial expenditure of USD 2 million to set up its processing centre which officially opened at the Fish Landing Complex in Muara yesterday.

The event also saw the launching of Nakhoda 1, the company’s first 18 metre fishing vessel which is fully equipped with the latest fishing technology from Japan.

Yamako Pacific’s Managing Director Alex Yeunh Oi Siong added that about USD 4.5 million is also being reserved to bring in nine more fishing vessels, with three currently waiting to be ordered.

The decision to invest into Brunei came following a visit to Golden Corporation, arranged by the SBI Islamic Fund (Brunei) Limited, who was also looking for foreign investors to Brunei in July last year.

During the visit, Yeunh was impressed with Golden Corporation’s capabilities in the same trade; “They have large boats, and in their cold room, there are some very big tunas; so we (immediately) agreed to a joint venture with them,” he said.

“But Golden Corporation has restructured its fishing fleet, giving up on deep sea fishing; so we have to do it on our own,” he added.

Setting the investment into motion now, Yeunh said the most important thing for the company is to make sure it can get tuna fishes within the deep waters of Brunei for the next two to three months.

The types of tunas sought by the company are skipjack tunas and yellow fin tunas; which are commonly used for commercial purposes for their abundance, with the former often put to shelves in cans.

While buying fishes from other companies at the moment, its current vessel, Nakhoda 1 is also capable of storing five metric tonnes of tuna within five days.

The vessel is authorised to fish in Zone 3 of the Bruneian seas; which is within 25 to 55 nautical miles towards the deep sea.

It can also enter the Zone 4; anything that is above 55 nautical miles from the land, an area noted by the managing director to be abundant with all types of fishes.

“(In a projection), if you sell them at USD 4 each, you will get USD 20,000 within five days,” he said.

“If you rest for two days, you can go up to three to four trips in a month, that’s about USD 100,000 in your pockets,” the managing director said.

At the moment however, Yamako Pacific only exported its tuna fishes to Japan, said Yeunh.

“But we will be opening up a market in Hong Kong soon, so that we do not rely solely on one market,” the managing director added.

With the latest fishing technologies at hand, Yeunh expressed his confidence that his vessel can find fishes in the sea.

“We have the technology to detect fishes, so if we can’t find them, nobody else can, no matter how experienced they are,” Yeunh said.

The Bruneian