1. GST Group has partnered with WWF as an event sponsor to raise awareness of sustainable seafood in Malaysia. Why did you feel this is an important cause?
GST Group is honoured to be part of WWF’s initiative to raise awareness of sustainable seafood, and we aim to do this via leading the industry by example. It is crucial that the aquaculture industry is sustainable as this will protect and prolong our business, which is completely at the mercy of the environment. For instance, one of the measures GST Group has applied is to stop using trash fish as feed and instead switch to pellets. In addition, we keep a lid on our environmental impact by monitoring and testing water quality, conducting better waste management, and implementing a chemical-free culturing method. GST Group is also certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), having joined the Aquaculture Improvement Project (AIP), which shows that raising awareness of sustainable aquaculture is very much an important mission for us.
2. How are fish and shellfish farmed in GST Group’s aquaculture system?
GST Group employs a series of sustainable aquaculture systems anchored around three major criteria; feed, farming, and processing. As a fully-integrated marine fish company, it is our responsibility to uphold a more than 50-year-old tradition as well as embrace new culturing techniques advised by our skilled technicians. We practise strict quality control over our entire supply chain, from the feed and broodstock all the way to the growout farms and processing before our products land on the plates of our valued customers.
3. How does GST Group’s aquaculture system regulate its fish farms to minimise environmental impact?
We take our ecological footprint very seriously, as the main selling point of our seafood products is that they come from the pristine waters of Penang. We have adopted more efficient and precise farm management methods to reduce the risk of infection. In the same vein, we are strong advocates of zero antibiotic and chemical use in disease control. Moreover, our wastewater is treated with chlorine and tested for safety before it is released to the environment. All of this is down to our commitment to safe and high-quality seafood products.
4. How is aquaculture regulated in the local context?
Through the zero use of antibiotics, efficient management as well as optimised feed nutrition for the minimal consumption of fish meal. Furthermore, we organise and attend meetings with the Aquaculture Operators Association of Penang (PENKUA) to ensure that aquaculture activities in the state are running smoothly.
5. How important are imports to Penang’s fisheries industry?
While it is the smallest state in Malaysia, Penang has the most potential and largest growth in the seafood industry. Known worldwide as a food haven, this has led to the second core industry that is tourism. Thousands of eateries can be found throughout the state, necessitating a high volume of quality imported fish. Fortunately for Penang, there are a number of major seafood brands to cater to the demand.
6. How important are exports to Penang’s fisheries industry?
In spite of its size disadvantage compared to other states, Penang is blessed with a strategic location surrounded by fertile, calm seas that protect it against monsoons. This allows the state an average growth of 8.4% annually, which could potentially surpass the production yield of Sabah. The business is currently a multi-billion dollar business. The export of fish in Penang is important to the local economy. To further stimulate and facilitate growth, aquaculture operators now have the facilities to access the global seafood arena. In this small state, there are more than 30 seafood processing plants that have the capability to supply locally-farmed seafood to the rest of the world. The income generated from such exports could offset monetary losses resulting from importation, thereby allowing the Malaysian Ringgit to stabilise against foreign currencies and promoting more career opportunities for our people.
7. Dato’ Goh, GST Group is obviously a pioneer that has shaped the aquaculture industry of Malaysia. I believe that you therefore must have a long outlook on aquaculture development. What do you envision aquaculture in this country to look like, say, 10 to 15 years from now?
Aquaculture in Malaysia will transition from traditional culturing methods to more modern practices as the industry matures. Modernisation of the aquaculture industry will allow for better quality and higher yield that will put it neck-to-neck with fisheries. We believe this can be achieved by adopting new technologies, training skilled young consultants, and investing in new species; ultimately establishing Malaysia as a global superpower in marine fish production.