Darden has already started working in a pilot plant located in Semporna. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Darden gets ready to build a new lobster hatchery
Monday, June 25, 2012, 01:30 (GMT + 9)
US-based Darden Restaurants Inc is planning to build the world's biggest and first fully integrated commercial lobster hatchery in Sabah by 2015. The pilot farm in Semporna is already operating and currently concentrating on researching and developing the lifecycle of the lobster, informed Darden Aquafarm Inc President Bill Herzig.
"We will be doing pallete hatchery this year, get the results from that and use them to finalise the design of phase one of the hatchery. We expect it to be up and running in two years from now," he said.
The hatchery will initially yield some one million lobsters that will generate about one million kg of products per year, he stated, Bernama reports.
Malaysia was chosen for the project because its clean waters are perfect for raising lobsters. The company is interested in lobster farming to try to counterbalance the planet’s dwindling supply of wild ones, Herzig said.
"The global supply is declining and we are concerned about sustainable supply. We believe aquaculture can reverse this trend and begin to take off pressure of the wild harvest," Herzig stated.
The world market for lobsters is now worth more than USD 4 billion per year. China is the primary consumer, buying USD 3 billion of lobsters – which is why Darden plans to market the products in Asia first of all, he said.
Although the lobster farm would help protect Darden from rising seafood prices while creating a new revenue stream, lobster farming could also keep prices lower for consumers and make competition harder for fishers.
The lobster farming scheme will be carried out in partnership with Yayasan Sabah and another local partner which has not yet been named.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said the venture is expected to involve a USD 600 million-investment by Darden, New Sabah Times reports.
Darden Restaurants has set up two entities for this project: Darden Aquasciences Sdn Bhd and Lobster Aqua Technologies Sdn Bhd, which has been granted BioNexus status by the Malaysian Government.
Darden Aquasciences will supply the lobster fry for Lobster Aqua Technologies and its contract farmers to produce market-ready lobsters on a commercial scale.
However, certain matters still need to be figured out.
“This grow-out business is sealed with the offer of 6,000 ha of sea space by the Sabah State government while the hatchery component requires further fine-tuning. MOSTI and the Ministry of International Trade & Investment will give personal attention to the investment initiative,” the minister said.
Darden Restaurants is the world’s largest full-service restaurant firm with over 1,900 restaurants in the US and Canada. It enjoys an annual turnover of USD 7.5 billion.
- Darden to build world's biggest lobster farm
By Natalia Real