Brunei's Fisheries Department has successfully produced a disease-free breed of black tiger prawns, making Brunei the only producer of specific pathogen-free (SPF) species in the Southeast Asia.
After five years of intensive research and trials to produce a SPF Penaeus monodon (black tiger prawn), the Fisheries Department received remarkable results from its first harvest at the Aquaculture Research and Development Centre at Telisai.
The harvested prawns grew rapidly to sizes in excess of 40 grammes, a media release from the department said.
The pond yielded seven metric tonnes of the prawns per hectare, exceeding the researchers' estimate by 0.6 metric tonnes. It produced 58 grammes of SPF black tiger prawns in 136 days, the press release added.
Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, who was the guest of honour at the harvesting ceremony, said that the harvest saw very "dense production" of 30 to 40 tiger prawns within one square metre.
"This is a breakthrough to breeding monodons in dense situation. We are the first country in the region to produce such dense production of monodons," he said.
He compared the harvest to productions by other prawn breeders, where only one or two prawns were produced per hectare. The research, in collaboration with Integrated Aquaculture International (IAI), had set a very profitable and efficient system in breeding Penaeus monodon, with a feed-conversion ratio of 1.45.
"Instead of getting a feed conversion ratio over two, which should be normal for these large sizes, they're getting a feed conversion of about 1.5. That means 1.5kg of feed per kilo of shrimp," Director of IAI, George Chamberlain said.
Pehin Dato Hj Yahya added that being specific pathogen free was one of the factors that contributes to the large sizes of the shellfish.
"When prawns have a disease, it can cause their food intake to decrease. Their feed conversion will be lower." With such a leap in the aquaculture industry in Brunei, the minister said this can be a branding for Brunei, currently the sole producer of SPF black tiger prawns in the region. The first harvest of the Penaeus monodon yesterday was done using an automated harvesting machine, a first in the country's history of prawn culture industry.