KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is expected to expand its aqua-culture sector in the fishing industry up to 50% by 2020 to sustain the people’s fish-based food demand.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the latest policy would ensure that all fishery products were divided equally between the fisheries and aqua-culture sectors.
“We started to implement this policy at the end of last year.
“Previously, the ratio was 80% of fisheries and only 20% of aqua-culture,” he said after launching the Malaysia International Seafood Exposition 2014 here yesterday.
The aqua-culture sector refers to the breeding, rearing and harvesting of all types of marine life such as fish farms, seaweed farming and cultivation of ornamental fish.
Ismail said the policy change was in line with the increasing global demand which could threaten fish supplies dramatically.
“Without rapid implementation of sustainable fisheries management practices to meet the ever growing demand, we may actually experience a reduction in seafood availability as we deplete one of the world’s most valuable resources,” he said.
Ismail also suggested coral-reef breeding be emphasised as it was part of the aqua-culture industry.
“Following feedback from my officers who went to Germany on an official visit, there is a demand to procure coral reefs from us.
“I will be speaking to the Terengganu Mentri Besar to seek his approval to gazette Pulau Bidong as a centre for coral-reef breeding,” he added.
Under the National Agro-Food Policy (2011-2020), the Government has set an ambitious target of two million metric tonnes of fish to be produced by the year 2020.
“This policy has been put in place to address the issue of food supply in Malaysia.
“With this policy, it guarantees that there will be a sufficient amount of food supplies which would also be safe for consumption in our country,” he said.
Ismail added that in line with the effort to develop Malaysia as a high-income nation, it was anticipated that the National Agro-Food Policy would also increase the revenue of farmers as well as agro-entrepreneurs.
In Malaysia, food fish production last year was at 1.74 million metric tonnes, valued at RM10.6bil. The total value of fish and fish products traded was RM5.9bil.
This contributed 1.3% to the national gross domestic product (GDP) and 12.5% to the agriculture GDP.
Besides food fish, ornamental fish trade accounted for 377 million pieces valued at RM629mil last year.