PENANG is keen on tapping potentials in oyster farming to further boost the aquaculture industry, says state Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin.
He said oyster farming is yet to be deeply explored even though organisations such as Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (Cemacs) carries out breeding for research purposes.
“We want to promote the opening of oyster farms in Penang, because at present they are mainly based in Sungai Merbok, Kedah,” he told a press conference during a visit to Cemacs at Monkey Beach, Penang, recently.
Dr Afif said the state government would work closely with Cemacs to identify those who are able to carry out oyster farming in Penang.
“This could be a way to generate extra income for the fishing community, and who knows, in future it could be their main source of income.
“It is also another opportunity for our fishermen to consider instead of merely relying on unpredictable amounts in fish catch to earn a living,” he said.
“This industry should be fully tapped into as the current oyster supply is only able to fulfil about 14% of local demand, while the other 86% of oysters are imported to meet the demand,” he added.
Dr Afif was speaking to reporters on his visit to Cemacs, where he also viewed other research projects including the breeding of horseshoe crabs, sea grass, sea cucumbers and cockles.
Cemacs director Prof Datuk Dr Aileen Tan said green aquaculture, such as oyster breeding, is a highly sustainable business as oysters do not need feeding.
“Oysters feed on plankton that grow in natural water, so the farmers do not have to feed them.
“Oysters also help filter the water they breed in, leading to cleaner surroundings and preserving the cleanliness of the water.
“As such, we encourage businessmen, including those from the fishing villages, to consider venturing into this lucrative industry.
“We, at Cemacs, are willing to provide assistance in setting up oyster hatchery as well as observing proper breeding and farming techniques,” she added.
Cemacs marine biologist Prof Dr Zulfigar Yasin said anyone with enough funds can join the industry upon receiving necessary training.
“We will guide them with relevant oyster breeding and hatching techniques, as well as advise them on the right species to be bred in areas with different levels of water salinity.
“Oyster farms need to be operated at places where the water from the upstream is not contaminated with palm oil as oysters can easily absorb the effluent from palm oil discharges,” he said, adding that such oysters could be harmful to people when eaten.