Dept helping breeders and farmers weather dry spell

Low catch: The El Nino phenomenon could lower fish metabolism and stress them, says Adnan. — File pic courtesy of Fisheries Department

JOHOR BARU: The Fisheries Department has taken proactive steps to help fish breeders and farmers weather the impact of the dry spell.

Fisheries Department director-general Datuk Adnan Hussain said the current El Nino phenomenon could lower fish metabolism and stress them, while rising temperatures could reduce oxygen levels in breeding ponds and make fish more susceptible to illnesses.

“They can start by conducting water recirculation; prawn breeders and fish hatcheries are encouraged to reuse the pond water after it has been treated.

“Pumping new water should also be minimised, especially in hatchery ponds,” he said when contacted.

The other methods include postponing new breeding, reducing the rate of food given and harvesting fish that have achieved marketable size promptly.

“They could also cover their hatchery pond with a black net to reduce the heat.

“Another idea is for them to practise integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, where two or more organisms are farmed together.

“Those who have mobile ponds can also move them into an indoor or shaded area,” said Adnan.

On a wider scale, the government, through the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry (MAFS), has also introduced the Agricultural Disaster Fund in 2021 to help aquaculture entrepreneurs and fishermen affected by natural disasters.

“Based on our records, we have channelled RM8.4mil in aid to 959 aquaculture entrepreneurs and fishermen all over the country between December 2021 and June 2022,” he said.

“The aid is distributed under the Agro-Food Project Redevelopment Programme in the form of agricultural input or equipment, machine assistance, business equipment assistance, or other forms of assistance to help restore target group projects as well as farm mechanisation and automation, and is not intended to pay compensation for damage due to disasters.

“The recipient must be a small-scale aquaculture farmer who carries out freshwater and brackish water farming activities and hatcheries in an area of up to two hectares, or use fish cages of not more than 15 units,” he added.

“The rates for the given aid are RM5,850 for each 6x6m cage for ocean fish, and RM2,300 for each 3x3m cage for freshwater fish.

“For breeding ponds, the rates are RM36,000 per hectare for ocean fish, RM18,100 per hectare for freshwater fish, RM43,875 per hectare for (marine) prawns, RM27,600 per hectare for freshwater prawns, and RM52,025 per hectare for lobsters,” he said.

On an unrelated matter, Adnan said MAFS, together with the Statistics Department Malaysia, would be conducting the 2024 Agricultural Census on July 7.

“This census aims to gather detailed information about the structure and characteristics of the agricultural sector, including crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry.

“It will cover all types of agricultural holdings, such as businesses, institutions and households,” he said.

The 2024 Agricultural Census is the fourth census programme following the previous one conducted in 2005. This programme will run from July 7 to Oct 10.

“For the fisheries subsector, the 2024 Agricultural Census is divided into three categories, namely sea catch fisheries, inland fisheries and aquaculture.

“The census for the fisheries subsector targets registered organisations, fishermen, and breeders across Malaysia, and will be conducted through face-to-face interviews,” he added.

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