Perak Fish Lands On US, Canada and European Tables


By James Gough

Fish bred in Temenggor Lake in Upper Perak have made their way to  thousands of tables in the United States, Canada and soon into the European Union countries. Trapia Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. a subsidiary of GenoMar ASA of Norway, which holds 70% in a joint venture with Malaysian partner Dalefin Holding Sdn. Bhd., is exporting 400 tonnes of the fish per month to those countries.



Perak – Largest Producer of “Fish for Food” In Country

Perak is now the largest producer of ‘fish for food’ in the country. Its total output for last year was at 118,500 metric tons with a market value of RM603 million – contributing one third of the total national output at 359,000 metric tonnes.

Incidentally, the output was also 20% higher than 2009 which was 97,000 metric tonnes with a value of RM580 million.

Breakdown of the products for last year was freshwater fish: 70,310 metric tonnes, valued at RM333.9 million, seawater fish which includes cultured prawns 21,804 metric tonnes, valued at RM242.11million and cockles: 26,387 metric tonnes at a value of RM26.98 million.

According to Perak State Director for Fisheries, Hj Sani Mohd Isa, the state government has set a goal to raise the fish for food output to 150,000 metric tonnes by 2020 and is currently focusing on the breeding of Tilapia fish (Tilapiine cichlids) which Sani says has a “huge global demand currently”.

Technology Revolutionizing Aquaculture

Trapia Malaysia Sdn Bhd., which was set up in 2008 and operates within an Industrial Aquaculture Zone in Temenggor Lake, is an eco-friendly aquaculture farm, which produces traceable and DNA-verifiable Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus).

Mr. Lai Sead Ping, General Manager of Trapia Malaysia, said the company only produces black Tilapia and chose Temenggor Lake as it is a natural and sustainable site with good quality water and a pristine and pollution-free environment.

The fish are bred in modules of 20 floating circular cages per module on the lake. Each cage has a depth of 6 metres with a cone-shape entrapment below the cage for waste.

Trapia has its own hatchery in Bongor in Grik and cultivate their own fry. The fish are brought to the cage when they are about 40g in weight or three months old. The fish are ready for harvest after another five months when they weigh about 1kg each. The production capacity of each module is 2,500 tonnes per year.

Its fish are not sold whole but filleted. During harvest, the fish are pumped into a station and transported live to their filleting plant in Parit Buntar where the fish are stunned, bled, and gutted before skinning. The fish is then hand-filleted for maximum yield, and then individually quick frozen in a blast freezer before being packed for export.

Quality Monitoring System 

To ensure consistent water quality Trapia installed a quality monitoring system to monitor water quality parameters all around its production facility and also at important points in the lake, (such as rivers running into it) “to minimise the environmental impact on the whole lake if a problem develops.”

The company has received a certificate for Best Aquaculture Practices from global accreditation company Accreditation Certification Council (ACC). Additionally, the fish are fed only vegetable fish feed pellets and are classified by Jakim as halal.

Tilapia has “zero wastage”. Its wastage is classified as a “by product” whereby the waste is used for fertilizer by farmers, the bones are processed for fish meal and the skin for gelatine extraction. Trapia Malaysia states that its “egg to plate” tamper proof traceability system is the first of its kind in the world and “has set a new standard in food safety.”

Revolutionising Aquaculture

Tilapia fish is regarded as the third most important fish in aquaculture. With characteristics like an omnivorous diet, tolerance of high stocking density and rapid growth and palatability, it is among the easiest and most profitable fish to farm. This accounts for the many other aquaculture projects in the state.

One other project in Perak is Flora Kancil Sdn. Bhd., located at Menglembu. It was recently awarded the Good Aquaculture Practice Certificate by the Perak Department of Fisheries. The company produces red Tilapia and produced over 86 metric tonnes of Tilapia last year valued at RM520,000.

While this figure may not appear to be significant, one needs to consider that the volume was produced on a three-acre farm of which the production area covered just two acres. Even more interesting is the fact that the fish are grown in polyurethane tanks instead of fish ponds as are commonly found around the Kinta Valley.

Flora Kancil Sdn. Bhd. was formed by a resident from Bukit Merah near Menglembu, Lee Chee Sing, who is the Managing Director. He initiated breeding red Tilapia in 72 Polyethylene tanks in 2009. Now, there are 144 tanks.

The Farm

According to the COO of its farm Phang Thin Yau, their production process is “simple”. Located on the two-acre area are the tanks and two ponds which form the production area, and on the one-acre area with 32 tanks as the trading area where fish, upon reaching marketable size, are transferred over.

Their production process consists of four components, a tank, filter, ventilator and a water pump system. Each tank has a capacity of 3,000 litres and consists of a 24-hour closed and circulating water flow system from the tank passing through a filtering process before being pumped back into the tank. Each tank can cultivate 300-400 fish and is considered high density.

The tank water is changed daily by draining the tank water to one third of its volume before being replaced with filtered water. Simultaneously, the dirt accumulated from the previous day is removed. Their fish are fed only fish pellets.

Sampling, grading and isolation of produce are done regularly in order to sort fish according to similar size. This is necessary to ensure uniform growth of the fish for marketing purposes. This process also allows for weak fish to be isolated and the individual tank treated. Phang’s method of treating weak fish is by using vacuum dried salt.

Flora Kancil followed closely the advice from the state Fisheries Department in the development of this system. It has now been proven to be workable and capable of controlling the quantity and quality of the produce simply by controlling the production environment. “The produce using this system has over 90% survivability rate and a better yield compared to pond cultivation” said Phang.

GAP Recognition

In 2009, in view of its consistent quality the company was granted bio-security certification for a year. However, the subsequent year their certification was approved for 2 years and this year they were presented with the SAAB “Good Aquaculture Practice” (GAP) certificate.

The fact that the company received the GAP award just 3 years after their production began is a statement of the potential of this production system.

For Lee, the benefits of using this system are numerous. “You don’t need a big area or manpower, it’s easy to maintain and gives quick results and has unlimited potential. The best part is everyday we have fish for sale” said a smiling Lee.

For the future, Lee stated that he had identified an area 100 acres in size around Tronoh which he intends to develop in a joint-venture exercise to create 36 integrated farms. With plans to become an Integrated Aquaculture Zone (IZAQ), he will cultivate red tilapia as well as prawns and cat fish using the same production system adding that “he was currently doing the research on these two products”.

2 thoughts on “Perak Fish Lands On US, Canada and European Tables

  1. Saya idris dari negeri semblan,saya nak tanya..blh sya dapat info yg lebih lagi mengenai ternak ikan dlm tangki poly..?tolong emailkan mobile dan compny..bolehkah saya kerusus cara trnak ikan ini.

  2. Hi, I have been told that tilapia feeds on human waste. Because of this fish eating “shit” I have not been eating them. Is it true?

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