KUANTAN: Sturgeon would be imported if it is proven that cultivating the fish species is possible, Fisheries Department director-general Datuk Ahamad Sabki Mahmood said.
“Even though the sturgeon is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), if it is proved they can be farmed, then permission can be given for the fish to be imported with conditions,” he said after holding a dialogue on new zoning rules with fishermen here recently.
Sturgeons are native to subtropical, temperate and sub-Arctic rivers, lakes and coastlines of Eurasia and North America. Several species of sturgeons are harvested for their roe, which is made into caviar - a luxury delicacy.
The RM120mil sturgeon farming project being developed in Kuala Tahan by Felda Investment Corporation and MMC Hassed Co Ltd of South Korea had drawn objections from the Pahang National Park Tourism Operators Association which feared that it would affect eco-tourism in the area.
Its chairman Abdul Jalil Abdul Rahman was that the foreign fish species could pose a threat to the ecosystem and jeopardise the livelihood of those involved in eco-tourism.
The project had also been criticised by Sahabat Alam Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society and they said the import of exotic species such as the sturgeon was prohibited under the Fisheries Act Fisheries Regulations (Prohibition of import etc, for fish) (Amendment).
Ahamad Sabki gave an assurance that measures would be put in place to prevent the fish from being released into the wild.
“We have conditions in place and we will monitor the project closely.
“The fish will not escape,” he reiterated.
Ahamad Sabki said the project was important to position the country to farm high-value products.
On the new zoning rules, he said traditional fishermen in Pahang were supportive of the plan to expand the fishing zone from five to eight nautical miles.
“This means trawler fishermen will have to fish further away.
“This is to protect our marine resources and also the livelihood of traditional fishermen,” he said.
Ahamad Sabki added the department would hold a dialogue soon to collect feedback on the proposal to ban trawling.
“This is because the catch from trawlers make up 47% of fish landed in our country.
“Even if we want to ban the use of trawling nets, it should be done in stages and maybe an alternative can be proposed,” he said.