Malaysia struggles to regain lost EU aquaculture export market

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BATU KAWAN (Mar 19): The Malaysian fisheries industry is struggling to fill the RM190 million revenue gap it lost after the European Union (EU) imposed a ban on aquaculture exports in June 2008 due to bad farming practices.

Department of Fisheries Malaysia’s aquaculture development division director Mazuki Hashim told reporters that the EU export market used to contribute about RM250 million per annum to the country’s revenue.

“However, since the ban, our export to the EU has dropped to about RM60 million per annum. Although we have improved, the competition is stiff because other countries such as Indonesia and Thailand have replaced our spot,” he said.

Mazuki said the present export to EU, which is Malaysia’s second largest market, does not include aquafish and Japanese carps.

“Our biggest market is the United States (US), which contributes about 40% of our total fisheries revenue of RM2.5 billion annually, followed by the EU and Japan, while China and Australia are new markets.

“We mostly export frozen shrimps to US but demand is higher than supply. We are working hard to meet the demand of about 100 containers a month,” he said after witnessing the opening of an awareness seminar on good farming practices by Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) chief executive officer Datuk Redza Rafiq.

Mazuki said the Fisheries Department has developed a certification called ‘MyGap’, which requires aquaculture farmers to comply with a new legislation on good farming practices that would be introduced by the government soon.

He expressed hope that with the ‘MyGap’ compliance certification, which is globally accepted, farmers would be able to increase their export revenue.

Meanwhile, he pointed out that a newly experimented fish feed called ‘artemia brine shrimp’ was being developed in the Northern Corridor Economic Region Biotech Centre here that was aimed at reducing imports in future.

“The development of artemia will reduce our hatcheries’ dependency on fish feed imports which amounts to hundreds of million yearly.

“With this locally-produced artemia, we hope to cater to the an impending demand of an approximate 30 billion fish fry required by 2020. This will enable us to reach the target of 1.76 million tonnes aquaculture fish output a year,” he said.