KOTA KINABALU: Inno Fisheries Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned company of Yayasan Sabah, and Darden Aquafarm, a subsidiary of Darden Inc, owner of Red Lobster and other US seafood restaurant chains, will jointly develop a RM2 billion Integrated Lobster Aquaculture Park (iLAP) project off Pulau Timbun Mata, Semporna in eastern Sabah.
In announcing this, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the proposed project, the world’s first iLAP, will cover 9,300 hectares (ha), comprising 6,000ha for commercial tropical lobster production, 700ha for research and development, training farm and demonstration farm, and 2,600ha for mussel (feed) production.
“This project is a vertical integration in nature including hatchery, production, feed and processing, and this will be part of 15,000ha to be gazetted as a Lobster Aquaculture Zone and regulated by the Sabah Fisheries Department,” he told reporters after meeting Darden Aquafarm Inc president Bill Herzig at Sri Gaya near here yesterday.
Musa, who is also State Finance Minister, said the iLAP would comprise the core entity, small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) and contract farming.
The project is expected to generate 12,000 job opportunities when fully completed by 2020, and locals can participate as contract farmers or as entrepreneurs through a buy-back scheme, he said.
Welcoming this cooperation to develop the aquaculture industry in the state, Musa said the industry has promise for greater growth in Sabah.
“To further tap this industry, we must collaborate with the right people who have the experience and technological know-how,” he said, adding the project fitted in with what the state government was looking for in terms of joint ventures with foreign companies.
“Not only are we attracting foreign direct investments through this project, but we are also creating job opportunities for locals and create economic spin-offs in Semporna.
“What is even more significant is that locals are allowed to participate directly in the project through contract farming or through buy-back schemes,” he added.
The Chief Minister urged the players in the project to work closely with the locals to ensure that everyone involved would benefit.
Meanwhile, Herzig hoped that the iLAP would become a commercial lobster grow-out project which can supply the Asian market in the future.
“We also hope that the iLAP would eventually help ensure a steady supply of lobsters which are ‘natives of Borneo’ for our restaurants as well as for the world market.
“At the moment we have almost 2,000 restaurants in North America (the US and Canada),” he said.
Sales of lobsters from the project are expected to reach RM3 billion by 2025. Darden Inc, located in Orlando, Florida, is the world’s biggest chain of full-service restaurants, with an annual sale of US$7.2 billion and some 180,000 workers. — Bernama
Source: Borneo Post Online.