Interview: Richard Chuang
we can clearly see that there will be an increase in marine activities and the farming sector in the years to come. To fulfil the demands of both local and international markets, our company plans to venture into value-added retail seafood products aimed at the mass market and finalise export to the EU and Australia. This step, facilitated by the government, is crucial for supporting local industries and encouraging them to move into international markets.
How can the local fishing community be brought in line with international practices?
RICHARD CHUANG: To bring the industry up to international standards, various requirements are needed, such as dolphin-safe practices for tuna fishing. The industry should also comply with international standards on responsible fishing, especially in combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, to protect the fragile marine ecosystem and vulnerable species like coral reefs, turtles and seabirds. The failure to comply with these standards is likely to reduce productivity and biodiversity as well as create imbalances in the ecosystem, all of which can detrimentally affect local fishing industries. Lastly, halal certification of seafood products is vital to catering to the local market and to capitalise on export opportunities to other Islamic countries where halal products are in high demand.
What can Brunei Darussalam’s fishing industry do to ensure a sustainable flow of raw materials?
CHUANG: To achieve this, the marine industry needs to incorporate advanced technology and equipment to expand and penetrate both local and overseas markets. Our fishing vessels are operating in the deep sea, fishing for tuna and tuna-like species in Bruneian waters, which are part of the migratory path of tuna in this region. The Bruneian aquaculture industry plays a vital role in national food security goals and fulfilling the aims of Wawasan Brunei 2035. For these reasons, the utilisation of marine resources should be maximised.
How do you rate Brunei Darussalam’s fishing infrastructure and how can it be improved?
CHUANG: Domestic infrastructure has improved for local fishermen in Brunei Darussalam. However, in the past, activity by local fishermen was hampered because they could not access deep-sea fishing zones due to the limited fishing technology and know-how. Thus, to further develop the local fishing industry, increased investment could be made to upgrade better-equipped fishing vessels that would enable them to access the deeper sea for larger catches such as yellow fin tuna. This, of course, must be done responsibly and in compliance with international standards. Additionally, the government has given a large amount of support to the fishing industry in terms of infrastructure provision. Especially for those of us in the aquaculture sector, the government has provided necessities, namely seawater and electricity supply facilities, which are the most important infrastructural elements in this sector.
What scope is there for further investment in the fishing industry, and which segments should financiers look to for the medium term?
CHUANG: Investment in Brunei Darussalam’s fishing industry could be further explored by bringing a more marketable supply of fish to the local market. This is meant to provide a wider variety of products to the people of Brunei Darussalam for day-to-day consumption. While ensuring that all seafood products satisfy international food standard requirements, we should continue to see positive growth in the overall aquaculture sector in Brunei Darussalam. We have found that this segment offers a good return on investment, as we can support the local demand and also export excess quantities to international markets. Additionally, government-to-government partnerships can open up new export markets for small industry. In my perspective, the government has strongly supported the opening up of new export markets for small industry. With the support from the government
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