KUANTAN: Right from the get-go, the sturgeon farming project in Kuala Tahan received strong objections when word came in 2013 that it would be built on the fringe of Taman Negara.
The joint-venture project, between Felda Investment Corporation and MMC Hassed Co Ltd of South Korea, was opposed by local tourism operators and environmental groups, who feared there would be a severe impact on the ecosystem and the eco-tourism value of the area.
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 turned into caviar – a luxury delicacy.
The then Fisheries Department director-general Datuk Ahamad Sabki Mahmood had said that sturgeon would be imported, provided it was scientifically proven that cultivating the fish species was possible.
He said there was no need to amend any law as the project did not involve the import of wild sturgeons.
Within months, the project had been put on hold and ultimately shelved in 2015.
It was reported that the decision was made by the state executive council after the project’s construction site in Sungai Tabung did not pass the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) stage.
State Felda Affairs committee chairman Datuk Abu Bakar Harun had, at that time, said that the river was chosen for the project as its water quality was suitable for sturgeon rearing.
However, due to the EIA results, the project had to be moved to another undetermined location.
Last year, the Auditor-General reported that Felda Caviartive Sdn Bhd (FCSB) spent RM47.61mil on a fish farming project in Pahang, but the returns, including from sturgeon farming and technology transfer, were not realised due to suspension of the project.
When contacted yesterday, Pahang Rural Development, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry committee chairman Datuk Shafik Fauzan Sharif declined to comment, saying the matter was under MACC investigation.
Abu Bakar could not be reached for comments.
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