Barramundi Asia to build $300 million sea bass farm in Brunei 

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Waqiuddin Rajak

BARRAMUNDI Asia Pte Ltd, a Singaporean registered aquaculture company is investing a total of $300 million to open up a sea bass farm in Brunei, with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Fisheries Department signed to mobilise this venture.

Present at the signing was the Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Hj Ali Apong.

Signing on behalf of the company was its General Manager, Eva Lim, with Acting Director of Fisheries Mariani Hj Sabtu signing on behalf of her department.

Under the MOU, the Fisheries Department is to give an area measuring 6,613 hectares at the Nankivell Offshore Aquaculture site, and 21 hectares of land at Kg Tanah Jambu to establish its fish hatchery and nursing facilities.

The company will be cultivating a premium breed of sea bass, the Kuhlbarra Barramundi which is also regarded as the “salmon of the tropics.”

In full swing, the sea bass farm is expected to produce up to 40,000 metric tonnes per year, by 2021, with Acting Director of Fisheries Mariani Hj Sabtu producing that the venture will help Brunei achieve $400 million worth aquaculture yields by 2020.

She added that the produce is set to be exported overseas, with potential supply lines already set to Singapore, Australia and Europe.

As the MOU was only signed yesterday, both parties has yet to sign a lease agreement to signify the handover; thus no timeline has been set yet as to when the setting up of the project will be commenced and completed.

Barramundi Asia’s Managing Director Joep Kleine Staarman however noted that the setting up might take about three and a half years to be completed, outlining the processes that include building up the facilities and cultivating the fishes both on land and the sea, before it can be harvested and exported overseas.

For this particular project, Barramundi Asia will be utilising of the technology used for salmon farming from Norway, Chile and Canada; which made use of hi-tech machineries to feed and monitor the fishes.

“There is nothing special about the technology however; we are just copying what the Salmon industry does; they have farms offshore in Norway, Chile and Canada and we are just taking all their methods and equipments and use them on Barramundi,” he said.

“In any kind of agricultural business, you really don’t want to risk things by trying unproven methods; we don’t need more risk, so we go for technology that has been proven to work.” – Joep Kleine Staarman, Barramundi Asia Managing Director

Brunei was targeted for this venture because of its reputable clean waters, said the Managing Director, adding that its fish farming industry has also yet to have sea bass lined up in it.

“Plus of course we have a very good relationship with Singapore, also expressed through the currency exchange; so it is relatively easy for us to set this up in Brunei,” he said.

At this moment, the managing director is hoping that his company could sign the lease agreement and start its venture as soon as possible.

The Bruneian