Curtin Malaysia organising webinars on aquaculture

Miri – 13 April 2021 – Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) is organising a series of free public webinars on aquaculture in collaboration with Curtin University in Australia to raise awareness of the emerging aquaculture industry in Sarawak. They are also being organised in conjunction with the introduction of its new Master of Science in Sustainable Aquaculture postgraduate coursework degree in July this year.

The first webinar titled ‘Aquaculture in Sarawak: Challenges and Opportunities’ was held on 6 April 2021 and attended by over 60 participants from academia, government and industry.

The webinar featured three aquaculture experts, namely Professor Ravi Fotedar, Professor of Sustainable Aquaculture of Curtin University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering in Perth; Chin Han Kiat, a senior fisheries officer with Sarawak’s Department of Agriculture; and June Moh Hwei Yieng, Head of the State Fisheries Biosecurity Branch at the Department of Agriculture’s Sarawak Regional Fisheries Biosecurity Centre. They spoke about the science of aquaculture and trends in the global and regional aquaculture industry, research in the field, as well as the current status and development of aquaculture in Sarawak.

In his opening remarks, Pro Vice-Chancellor and President of Curtin Malaysia, Professor Simon Leunig, remarked that the introduction of Curtin’s two-year Master of Science in Sustainable Aquaculture and the establishment of an aquaculture research facility at Curtin Malaysia is timely in view of the anticipated rapid development of commercial aquaculture in Sarawak in the coming years.

“Curtin Malaysia sees the opportunity to establish itself in a number of research areas that are suited for its location and tropical environment in Sarawak, and it is obvious that we are a perfect location for the aquaculture research that Curtin has been carrying out for many years,” he said.

Professor Leunig said it is intended that Curtin Malaysia will run a significant programme around aquaculture, including teaching and research, over the next few years as part of its ongoing development and in the interests of helping develop the local economy. Key to this would be the development of a major aquaculture facility which will be the most significant aquaculture facility at a tertiary institution in Malaysia, which will put Curtin Malaysia at the forefront in terms of technology, equipment and research.

“We are committed to working very closely with government and making sure our research is aligned to the state’s development agenda,” he added.

As for the course, Professor Leunig said it will prepare students for work in a number of fields related to aquaculture. They will explore the principles of aquaculture and factors influencing the viability of aquatic animal farming and food production systems. They will also explore the commercial business of sustainable aquaculture, and learn the skills to establish, manage and appraise aquaculture enterprises. In addition, they will have opportunities to engage in related research with access to the aquaculture research facilities at Curtin Malaysia.

Chin and Moh remarked that they were excited to hear about the course and looked forward to the prospect of research collaborations with the university in the future, especially in increasing production of local fish such as Empurau and implementation of MyGAP (Malaysian Good Agricultural Practice).

Professor Ravi, meanwhile, said it is important to have very close linkages between academia, industry and government to make Sarawak a significant global hub for aquaculture and overcome any challenges Sarawak’s aquaculture industry will face in the future.

In closing, webinar organiser and moderator Associate Professor Tony Hadibarata, who is the programme director for the Master of Science in Sustainable Aquaculture, concluded that greater development of the local aquaculture industry would be crucial to food security in Malaysia and particularly in Sarawak. The use of high technology and modern methods would also be essential to keep the industry competitive.

A screen capture of the webinar speakers and participants.

 

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