KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The world's first-ever commercially hatched lobster has been successfully bred in Sabah.
The ground-breaking milestone of the commercial breeding programme was shown to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Chief Minister Musa Aman, who visited the Integrated Lobster Aquaculture Park (iLAP) Mini Commercial Hatchery in Tuaran about 40km from Kota Kinabalu.
Lobsters or Panulirus ornatus, commonly known as ornate spiny lobsters, is being seen as a massive leap in Sabah's aquaculture technology that will brings Malaysia another step closer to the global market for lobsters that is valued at over US$4 billion (S$5.2 billion) a year.
"Only a handful of people in the world have the knowledge and technology to successfully culture the critical 11 stages and undergo metamorphosis from larvae form to juvenile lobster," said Lobster Aqua Technologies president and chief executive officer Shahridan Faiez Sunday.
"No one has ever successfully bred these large edible lobsters in captivity till now. Sabah, with its ideal natural tropical environment is now the landmark for this historic event.
"The waters have to be pristine to ensure successful breeding," he added.
The RM3 billion (S$1.16 billion) and 15-year lobster aquaculture project is expected to create 20,000 high-income jobs by 2028.
The hatchery-based lobster juveniles are already deployed into sea cages for the first time ever in Semporna.
"We are proud to have successfully localised this hatchery technology," said Dr Shahridan.
"This is how technology and talent come together and become a powerful catalyst for transformation. Without state and Federal Government support, none of this would have been possible," he added in a new release after the Prime Minister visited the hatchery.
The iLAP project is managed by Lobster Aqua Technologies, a joint venture between Nanyang Nexus and state owned Yayasan Sabah's subsidiary, Inno Fisheries.
Nanyang Nexus is a company jointly owned by Ever Nexus and Darden Aquasciences (a subsidiary of Fortune 500 company Darden Restaurants Inc).