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Fish farm project on the table

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A woman carries a bucket of live fish from an aquaculture project in Kandal province in 2013. Heng Chivoan

Fish farm project on the table

A Chinese firm and its local partner have floated a proposal for a $100 million aquaculture project in Cambodia that would include fish farms, a feed mill and a fish processing plant.

Representatives of China Ocean Fishing Holding Ltd and local holding company Khmer Holding Group Co Ltd held a presentation for Ministry of Agriculture officials this week to present their plans for the commercial aquaculture project.

Kaing Kim, deputy director of the ministry’s Fisheries Administration, said yesterday that a proposed initial investment of $30 million would be used to develop a 200-hectare fish farming operation at a location yet to be decided.

An additional $70 million would be sunk into developing a feed mill and fish processing factory on the site, with production of frozen seafood and fish filets to be exported to China.

“The company saw the high potential for investment in aquaculture in Cambodia, and came to deliver their presentation and highlight their achievements in China,” Kim said. “Based on their presentation, they are interested in investing in both freshwater and saltwater fish farming. We are not sure yet whether they have their own land, or are looking for the ministry to provide it.”

Agriculture Ministry officials are scheduled to meet the company representatives again today to discuss further details in anticipation of a memorandum of understanding that would lay the groundwork for the project.

China Ocean Fishing, a Hong Kong-listed supply management firm, announced last month that its subsidiary, Shenzhen Jinyutang Fishery Company Ltd, would establish a joint venture in Cambodia with Khmer Holding Group.

According to a filing, Jinyutang would take an 80 percent stake in the joint venture, injecting $8 million “for the purpose of investing in fishing activities in Cambodian coastal areas, aquatic process, sale of fishing products, cultivation in aquaculture and import and export trading”.

Khmer Holding Group is the investment holding company of Khmer-Chinese business tycoon Cao Yunde, also known as Khao Yun Dy. Its investments include energy, mining, finance and media.

A representative of the company declined to comment on the proposed aquaculture venture yesterday.

China Ocean Fishing Holding, formerly doing business as Sky Forever Supply Chain Management Group Ltd, could not be reached for comment.

The company’s proposed investment in aquaculture follows a plan announced last year by Norwegian company Vitamar to build a $23 million dollar marine fish farm in Sihanoukville.

Sin Kang, national project coordinator for the marine fishery component of the Cambodia Export Diversification and Expansion Programme II (CEDEP II), said the Kingdom offers suitable opportunities for Chinese companies seeking an offshore source of cultivated fish and seafood for their supply chains.

“Investment in aquaculture here has solid potential because our seawater is of high quality, as are the fish living in it, research has shown,” he said.

“We do not have a lot of factories to pollute the water, so it remains a clean environment and good potential investment for fish farming.”

This version removes mention of a JICA project that had been incorrectly identified. The project would in fact develop fish seed production techniques at an existing marine aquaculture research centre in Sihanoukville.

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