POOR river water quality has forced the Fisheries Department to identify only three of the nine districts in Perak suited for the breeding of ‘udang galah’ (freshwater prawns).
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali said the three districts picked were Hulu Perak, Selama and Batang Padang. He said the Fisheries Department had initially identified 185ha of potential freshwater prawn breeding sites in all nine districts for villagers to participate and help them increase their income.
“But since good water quality is of prime importance to ensure the harvest of high quality prawns, the activity will now be concentrated in Hulu Perak, Selama and Batang Padang,” he said when opening a freshwater prawn breeding complex in Kampung Kerian Gunung, Sungai Jernih in Ijok recently.
Tajol Rosli said villagers in Manong, Kuala Kangsar who had indulged in the activity several years ago, were not doing so good now due to deteriorating water quality.
He said the Fisheries Department was in the process of preparing a working paper to turn Perak as the main producer of freshwater prawns for the country. Tajol said by 2010, the national output of freshwater prawns was expected to be about 10,000 metric tons.
“Presently, the total area involved in the activity is 89.51ha while freshwater prawns harvested last year was 73.25 metric tons valued at about RM2mil,” he said.
Tajol Rosli also approved an allocation of RM50,000 for a prawn hatchery and processing workshop to be built in Selama following a request made earlier at the gathering by Larut MP Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar. He later released 42-day-old prawn fry into one of the ponds. They can be har- vested within a few months to be sold at RM30 per kg.
Speaking to reporters, Tajol Rosli said the activity suited rural areas where vast tracks of land, especially padi fields, remained idle.
By: Raslan Bahrom, The Star (northern edition) 17 May 2007