Russian minerals firm bets on grouper production in Malaysia

Ongoing demand for premium species in Asia has led a Russian coal firm to bet big on grouper farming in Malaysia. 

Fishance is producing grouper in the Langkawi region of Malaysia in an offshore aquaculture project. It has promised investment of up to USD 100 million (EUR 93.9 million) through 2020, by which time it aims to be producing one million tons of fish per year. 

The first batch of production has already been sold to Hong Kong, according to sales manager Ekaterina Panchenko, speaking to SeafoodSource at the Seafood Expo Asia in Hong Kong on Monday 4 September.

Fishance started aquaculture production a year ago, with green and coral grouper as well as hybrids of the two.

“They grow faster and are tastier,” Panchenko said.

Finding a clean, safe source of water was difficult given increased industrialization in southern Malaysia, explained Panchenko. Eventually, the company settled on a site in northerly Langkawi that allows for stable temperature and low mortality rates, she said. 

While know-how has been available in Malaysia, Fishance has also hired aquaculture experts from India, Iran, Russia, South Africa, and Ukraine.  For now, the company is focused on B2B marketing, attending trade shows to drum up custom among Asian wholesale buyers. 

Aquaculture production of grouper in Malaysia is fragmented and lower-tech than the Fishance project, according to Panchenko. That’s why the firm has sought to be self-sufficient in fingerlings and feed.

Starting out, a major challenge for Fishance was sourcing fingerlings. The company had a bad experience with virus in a batch imported from Indonesia and now relies on its own supply produced at an onsite hatchery with broodstock sourced in Malaysia, according to company head of marketing Mikhail Orlov.


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