MALACCA: The tilapia has been identified as one of the priority fish species by the National Economic Action Council to boost fish production.
Fisheries Department director-general Datuk Hashim Ahmad said the tilapia, a freshwater fish, was easy to breed as it could survive in ponds or floating cages.
He said the tilapia was recommended by the department as it was widely sought after overseas.
Hashim said the fish was accepted in many countries, especially Japan, the United States and European countries.
He said the fish was preferred by people in western countries because its meat was white and fleshy.
He said the demand for fish was higher as many people were eating fish rather than red meat for health reasons.
China and Taiwan are already major exporters of tilapia and many other Asian countries are following suit.
Malaysia has targeted to produce 120,000 metric tonnes of tilapia by 2010 for both export and local consumption, he said.
Hashim said production of tilapia had increased from 7,580 metric tonnes in 1993 to 18,227 metric tonnes in 2000.
He said the department together with World Fish Centre had done much research and development work to improve the quality of local tilapia product for export.
Consumers are likely to reject a product if the quality is not good, he told reporters after the opening of the Outlook Tilapia Farming Industry in Malaysia seminar by Agriculture Ministry deputy secretary-general Datuk Baseri Lamsah.
Hashim said those who ventured into commercial farming of fish should implement integrated farming methods for long-term profit.
He said besides producing fish, one should also look into value-added products such as using the meat to make fillets and fish fingers and the carcass for feedmills.
Hashim called on farmers to produce quality tilapia by adhering to good aquaculture practice.
Currently, there are several tilapia breeding areas in Bidor in Perak, Kenyir dam in Terengganu, and Pergau dam in Kelantan.
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