From: NK Khoo via e-mail
I refer to the article, “Caviar under oil palm trees – no thanks” by SM Mohamed Idris. He has a valid point on a legal issue for importing sturgeon which is against the Fisheries Act 1985 – Fisheries Regulations (Prohibition of import etc, for fish) (Amendment) 2011.
The law has to be amended first before any party is allowed to import the species for any purpose. Felda, a government-linked company, has to abide by the law like other companies under the principle of the rule of law.
Actually, Felda is not the first company to bring in sturgeon to Malaysia. There are other companies which had imported sturgeon for breeding purpose as reported in the local newspaper some time ago.
Sturgeon from the fish farm is a commercial fish commonly available in the wet markets in China. The fish is no longer on the brink of extinction and under the red alert protection list.
Caviar harvested from the sturgeon is a lucrative business, a new blue sea industry for Malaysia to escape from the middle-income trap.
Sturgeon breeding is no different from breeding other fish like African tilapia, an alien species, if the breeders have followed all licensing and technical requirements as stipulated by the Fisheries Department.
Malaysia, a tropical country, has an advantage in sturgeon breeding: the fish grows faster in the hot climate.
A concern is that the sturgeon may pose a danger to local fishes if they escape and survive in our river although the likelihood of a fish from the moderate climate surviving in the tropical river is slim.
A proper study should be conducted by the Fisheries Department to address some of these concerns before sturgeon breeding on a commercial scale is approved and promoted by our government.