Giant river prawns at the Glami Lemi Freshwater Fisheries Research Institute. Pix by Adzlan Sidek

JELEBU: Its price can fetch as high as RM100 per kilogram making the giant river prawns vulnerable to illegal anglers who use bombs and poisons.

Fisheries Department director-general Datuk Munir Mohd Nawi said, the illegal activity is often conducted in the species' breeding ground and habitat at the riverbed in rural areas.

"It is worrying because the activity will not only kill giant river prawns but also jeopardise other living species in the river. We try to make frequent surveillance but at times it is quite difficult due to its location," he said.

He added, some locations have been identified as the main locations for the illegal activities, including Sungai Johor in Kota Tinggi; Sungai Pahang (Rompin) and Sungai Timun (Rembau).

"On going monitoring by enforcement authorities is among the measures taken to curb the illegal activity. We have also established a cooperation network comprising local fishermen in the area to control the situation.

"The demand for giant river prawn has been growing despite its expensive price in the market. This is also one of the contributing factors to this illegal activity," he said after launching the Friends of Giant Prawns Broodstock Multification Center (BMC) at Glami Lemi Freshwater Fisheries Research Institute (FRI) here, today.

Also present were FRI Aquaculture Research director Dr Mohd Fariduddin Othman and State Fisheries director Halimi Abu Hanip.

Meanwhile, Munir said the 1,300 tonnes of giant river prawn produced every year through aquaculture farming is not adequate to meet consumers demand in the country.

"We are targeting to achieve a production of 2,500 tonnes of giant prawns in 2020 with the introduction of a new breed which is the DB giant river prawn which has gone through the genetic improvement process. This species has higher resistance to disease and change of weather," he said.

"The new breed will be distributed at breeding production centres which have been appointed as BMC partner before it is distributed to other aquaculture operators. We are confident this method will be able to increase the production of the giant river prawn," he said.

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