The Fisheries Department will implement four projects in Sarawak in the near future under the National Food Safety Policy.
The projects identified by the department are: Rehabilitation of Idle Fish Ponds, Creation of Aquaculture Industry and Hatchery Zones, Green Earth, and Giving out Incentives.
This was disclosed by the director-general Datuk Junaidi Che Ayub when he chaired a meeting of the Industrial Dialogue Council (Majlis Perundingan Industry - MPI) here yesterday.
The meeting was also attended by the department's director of Bio Security, Diagnostic and Quality Control Division, Ahmad Hazizi Aziz; state Marine Fisheries director, Azlisha Abdul Aziz; officers of related government departments; fishermen and industry players.
Using the projects under the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, the government will help rehabilitate idle fish ponds by giving money, equipment, fish fry, and feeds to the owners.
Aquaculture and hatchery zones will be created to increase production and fish fry.
Under the Green Earth project, rearing of catfish (ikan keli) in semi-urban and rural areas will be accorded greater priority, and those doing it will be given plastic or canvas tanks, fry, feeds and equipment.
The government will also give cash incentives to productive rearers based on the tonnage of fish or prawns harvested.
On export of fish and fish-products, particularly to countries in Europe, Junaidi said it was very important for Malaysian rearers, exporters and competent authorities to comply fully with European Union (EU) requirements in all aspects of rearing, safety, traceability and hygiene in order to avoid rejection of consignment which would cause major losses to all parties.
"All parties including middlemen should keep proper records. We must be prepared for the implementation of food traceability system worldwide one day," said Junaidi.
He expressed sadness as regards to recent audit findings by the Health Department that no fish factory in Sarawak could meet EU standard.
He also advised fishermen and owners of fish ponds to improve their Hygiene On Board (HOB) criteria and practices in respect of design, layout, personal hygiene, hygienic ice-cubes and clean water sources to meet stringent requirements by EU countries.
"The department will conduct HOB checks on vessels and aquaculture farms in Sarawak soon," he said.
Junaidi also disclosed that recently Australia gave consent to the department to issue Certificate of Hygiene for fish and fish-products and prawns and prawn-products, effective next month.
On export to the USA, Junaidi disclosed that recently the USFDA Seafood HACCP Inspection Mission audited six companies in Malaysia.
From Korea the department has also received a request to audit fish-processing companies in the country, including seafood company premises.
This, said Junaidi, augured well for the development of the fish export sector.
He cautioned that their high standard must be met first.