Saturday, February 10, 2007

Gross Looking Grouper .... Hybrid Grouper to Save Seafood Industry in Malaysia

HYBRID FISH: The new species is a cross between the giant grouper (A) and the tiger grouper (B), resulting in a hybrid species of grouper, or ‘sak pan’.

KOTA KINABALU: A hybrid species of grouper, or "sak pan" in Chinese, has been developed, which will have great commercial value and help to bring the seafood industry closer to its target for the future.

The new species is a cross between the giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) and the tiger grouper (Epine-phelus fuscoguttatus), both of which are high-value species in great consumer demand.

The fish was jointly developed by Universiti Malaysia Sabah's Borneo Marine Research Institute (BMIT), the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM) and Kinki University Japan.

BMIT director Prof Dr Saleem Mustafa said the new species will relieve the pressure on the wild grouper due to overfishing and other illegal fishing methods.

"We are looking at helping to find solutions to the increasing demand, versus shrinking supply, of the industry through aquaculture," he said.

A consignment of 2,000 four-month-old fish will be distributed to local fish breeders and farmers through LKIM.

The juvenile fish cost RM15 per fish now, but a fully grown one can sell for RM120 a kilogramme at full market price, said Saleem, adding that the species’ full growth potential is not known yet.

"It has been well-received, and it will benefit the industry as well as help with the conservation of the species.

"Cross-breeding combines the best qualities of both parent fish, hence the premium price," he said, adding that there are plans to sell the fish on the global market.

The target for aquaculture production in the country 400,000 tonnes per year by 2010, and the current level of production is 110,000 tonnes.

"Traditional methods cannot achieve this, so a great deal of effort needs to be put into research and development to increase yield," he said, adding that the new grouper is a step in this direction.

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