By HAMDAN RAJA ABDULLAH
TANGKAK: A mussel breeding programme using high technology will make Ledang a major mussel breeding and producing centre in the region.
The project, on a plot along Sungai Muar near Parit Bunga here, is carried out by Flexible Tech Sdn Bhd and University Malaysia Terengganu’s Tropical Aquaculture Institute.
The institute’s lecturer Associate Professor Dr Zaleha Kassim said the project was set up after a trial to breed mussels in the waters off Muar and Kesang, several years ago, failed.
She said the coastal waters off Muar and Kesang as well Sungai Muar and Sungai Kesang had been badly polluted from industrial and plantation wastes.
“We thought we could breed mussels in the coastal waters off Muar and Kesang and embarked on a project in 2005.
“However, the project failed after comprehensive tests found the waters to be polluted at both areas,” she said in Parit Bunga recently. Prof Zaleha said the institute then decided to produce mussel fry in special containers filled with treated seawater for breeding and as feed for fish fry.
She said this process was important because the fish and shrimp fry in the waters had very little food to eat due to the polluted waters.
She said the lack of food for the fry would hinder the growth of the fish and shrimps, and this would reduce the number of fish and prawns in the sea.
Prof Zaleha said Flexible Tech operator Kamaruddin Jauhad decided to rent a plot of land along Sungai Muar near Parit Bunga to set up a hatchery to produce mussel fry.
She said matured mussels were brought to the hatchery and induced to produce the fry or larvae for sale to aquaculture farms in the country.
She said the farms could use the larvae as feed for smaller fish and shrimps or breed them in clean seawaters and harvest mussels when they grew bigger.
She said mussels had great economic potential and were good for healthy bone growth, adding that New Zealand mussels were much sought after and expensive.
She added, “New Zealand Mussels had become a brand name because seawaters around New Zealand was not polluted.”
Prof Zaleha said she planned to produce a similarly popular brand name for mussels produced from Parit Bunga in the Ledang district in the near future.
Meanwhile, Kamaruddin said the hatching and breeding of mussel larvae was conducted inside two temperature-controlled building blocks.
“We engaged a team which specialises in aquaculture farming to manage the project and hope to produce mussels as well as mussel fry soon.
“We also want to produce better and healthier mussels to help improve the wild mussel in our coastal waters,” Kamaruddin added.
SOURCE: THE STAR, DEC 19, 2011