KUANTAN: Many people would not have thought that the Penor Prison in Kuantan would become the first prison in the country to introduce freshwater fry cultivation featuring a fish breeding centre.
While serving their jail terms, prisoners who get involved in the project are able to acquire skills and knowledge in artificial sperm and egg retrieval, insemination and hatchery, as well as fish cultivation and other related knowhow.
With such knowledge, they will be better equipped when they return to the society to make a living after being released from jail.
|A fish breeding centre
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: Sin Chew Daily)
On July 16, 2007, some 19 inmates and two wardens from Penor Prison took part in the pioneer project. They took up a series of theoretical and practical courses on freshwater fish farming at the Perlok Aquaculture Development Centre in Jerantut.
In August that year, the "Friends of Prisoners Club" allocated RM24,000 to start the experimental program by setting up a fry cultivation centre and a canvas shed to rear catfish beside the Sendayan pond in the prison.
Average RM4,000 income a month
In 2009, the Prisons Department noticed the economic potentials of this project and allocated RM129,600 to set up an official fish breeding centre and six canvas water tanks inside the prison. 15 wardens and 25 inmates attended the three training programs on freshwater fish rearing jointly organised by the Fisheries Department.
Other than supplying a large number of fry for exports, the freshwater fish cultivation and rearing centre also harvests as much as 400kg of catfish, red tilapia and patin every month. On average, the centre could bring a monthly income of up to RM4,000.
The processes of retrieving sperm and eggs:
1. Prisoner injects male and female adult catfish with a type of hormone that will stimulate ovulation and sperm activity.
2. The female and male catfish will be examined after 11 hours. The abdomen of the male fish will be cut open to retrieve the seminal vesicle. As for the female fish, the belly will be gently squeezed to release the eggs which number up to 30,000.
3. Prisoner will then cut open the seminal vesicle, mix the semen and eggs, stir with a soft feather to speed up fertilisation, and then put the mixture into the water and wait for the eggs to hatch. The hatching process should be 90% complete in one to three days' time.
4. After hatching, the fry will be put into water tanks filled with carefully regulated water of optimal temperature and quality. The inmates will then cultivate the fry by feeding them with Moina plankton they have bred themselves. The catfish can be sold when they reach the weight of around 500g each after three to four months of cultivation.
-My Sinchew/Asia News Network