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Tuesday December 25, 2012

Breeding programme to boost population of much-sought-after fish

Endangered fish: The humphead wrasse is in danger of extinction as it was sought after internationally. Endangered fish: The humphead wrasse is in danger of extinction as it was sought after internationally.

KOTA KINABALU: A breeding programme to increase the population of the endangered humphead wrasse or popularly known as ikan maming is under way by researchers at the Borneo Marine Research Institute.

The fish is a much-sought-after delicacy that can fetch up to RM250 per kilo with most of the catch finding its way overseas.

BMRI director Prof Dr Saleem Mustafa said the humphead wrasse was in danger of extinction as it was sought after internationally though the Government has banned its trade here.

“Hong Kong is the number one market for this fish which has become difficult to find in our waters now.

“People tend to eat the fish on certain occasions only,” he said, explaining the rationale to breed the fish at the BMRI aquarium at Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

He said BMRI managed to obtain the humphead wrasse from some dealers and started its breeding and release programme in an effort to increase its population.

“The fish will mature in seven years and the humphead wrasse we are culturing now are about two years old,” he said.

The species is very aggressive, said Dr Saleem, adding that initially they kept all the fish in one tank but they ended up attacking each other.

“We subsequently reduced the number of fish in each tank to reduce their interaction and fed them more food.”

Dr Saleem said there was a need for all stakeholders including fishermen to avoid overfishing.

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