Local fish-cage operator eyes export to China


A local fish-cage operator is in talks with a leading hotel chain in China to supply live fish for the country's consumer market, as the aquaculture company seeks to secure the Sultanate as a potential supplier of two of the region's highly-demanded fish species.

The managing director of PAZ Sdn Bhd, Zul Hilmi Zasmi, said he had travelled to China twice over the past several months to discuss the deal.

He, however, could not divulge the name of the hotel chain.

"Right now, I breed two of the most highly-demanded fish in the region, the mouse groupers and the coral trouts," he said, adding that the coral trouts are considered "vulnerable"and are illegal to be fished in Australia.

The quality of the coral trout's meat and its high demand has resulted in it being overfished.

Such is the high demand for the mouse groupers in Taiwan and China that the market price is about $160 per kilogramme, he shared.

He added that he was willing to lower his selling price to $90 per kilogramme.

"It's okay to make a small profit, the best thing for me in this business is to provide the service," he said.

"They (the hotel chain in China) are willing to buy at the smallest quantity," said the owner of a 0.2 hectare fish farm at Tanjong Pelompong.

Zul Hilmi said that this was an advantage as most overseas buyers had always looked at massive exports.

He said that his company could start exporting to the buyer latest by the middle of next year.

"Their (China) preferred size of a fish is one to 1.2 kilogrammes and the current size of my fish is 500 grammes, so I'll need six to seven more months to achieve their size," the owner added.

"This will make Brunei a potential supplier for these two fish species, which are highly in demand in the region."

According to information on the CRC Reef Research Centre website, coral trouts are the favourite target fish because they are good to eat and command high market prices locally and overseas.

The total commercial catch of coral trout was reported at over 1,500 tonnes in 1998. — Fitri Shahminan

The Brunei Times
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