The local poisonous golden pufferfish (xenopterus naritus) or commonly known as “ikan buntal” is a potential money-spinner as food export and tourism product. -- Pixabay photo

SPAOH: The local poisonous golden pufferfish (xenopterus naritus) or commonly known as “ikan buntal” is a potential money-spinner as food export and tourism product.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said the Batang Saribas river was well-known as the species' breeding ground during its spawning season from June to September.

The fish’s body parts contain neurotoxin tetrodotoxin, which is said to be 1,000 times deadlier than cyanide. The puffer is a known local delicacy for the people in Spaoh.

“The pufferfish requires a delicate technique to remove the deadly poison from its blood vessels and egg membrane. The locals are adept at preparing it as it is a delicacy.

“In Japan, the fish is a speciality dish at high-end restaurants,” he said at the annual Pesta Buntal or pufferfish fest at Kampung Manggut here on Sunday.

Uggah proposed a study to be carried out to ensure the fish population in the long term

“We have to know its spawning areas along the Batang Saribas, to prevent any disturbance that might affect their population.

“If we could do that, a long term supply is ensured and we could turn the fish into a unique tourism product.”

Meanwhile, Uggah said the public works department would be requested to prepare a more conducive site to host future local festivals.

He also announced an allocation of RM30,000 to the festival committee on top of another RM30,000 from Datuk Robert Lawson Chuat who is Betong member of parliament, and RM25,000 from Saribas state assemblyman Mohammad Razi Sitam.