Crown Prince visits Selirong Island
By Azlan Othman

His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office yesterday toured Selirong Island forest recreational park where its mangrove swamp is among the best preserved site in Southeast Asia and has the potential to lure eco-tourists.

His Royal Highness also visited aquaculture hatchery sites in Tanjong Pelompong in Muara that breeds seawater fish for local and export markets and Fish Landing Complex also in Muara, where HRH took a look at the Fisheries Department enforcement vessel used in safeguarding the Brunei waters against encroachment by foreign fishing vessels.

The working visit was to take a closer look at project locations under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) that are part of the economic diversification initiatives.

The ministry provides financial loan scheme to small and medium sized entrepreneurs (SMEs). The move is to enhance the country's competitiveness in the international arena and to attract foreign direct investments to the Sultanate.

The Crown Prince was greeted at Sg Bunga housing jetty in Mukim Kota Batu by the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Dr Awg Hj Ahmad, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, Dato Paduka Hj Eussoff Agaki, Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, Pg Dato Paduka Hj Abu Bakar, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid, Deputy Permanent Secretary at MIPR, Pg Hjh Mariana, and directors and senior officers at the MIPR.

HRH then travelled by a boat to Palu-Palu jetty at Selirong Island forest recreational area where he was greeted upon arrival by the Director of Forestry, Awg Hj Saidin.

Selirong Island, which has a 1.5km wooden walkway, covers an area of 2,566 hectares. The Forestry Department preserves the environment, especially its mangrove swamp and its endangered species. The park has the potential in the country's drive to promote eco-tourism. It is about 20 minutes by boat from Sg Bunga jetty in Kota Batu.

Along the walkway, HRH was introduced to flora and fauna and viewed a bat species, locally known as 'Kandau', and crocodile species in cages.

HRH then went to Tanjong Puan forest control post followed by a boat ride to three aquaculture sites in Tanjong Pelompong owned by Harvesea, Idot & Jane Petshop and Florid Development Enterprise companies.

Fish like grouper, seabass and white fish are bred in floating cages. Besides Tanjong Pelompong, other breeding and hatchery sites include Kaingaran Island, Sg Bunga and Buang Tawar.

The production of fish inside cages from January till May 2007 stood at 21,530kgs. Last year, it was 54,084kgs, 63,984kgs in 2005, 95,128kgs (2004), 82,693kgs (2003), 55,105kgs (2002), 29,846kgs (2001) and 36,840kgs in 2000.

HRH then visited the Fish Landing Complex where on the way to the complex, HRH took a closer look at the procedure of collecting water samples during red tide at Tanjong Pelumpong waters. The monitoring was conducted by marine eco-system and maintenance.

Water sampling is conducted twice a month if there's no occurrence of red tide. There are about 12 stations to collect water samples around the Brunei Bay.

At the Fish Landing site, HRH took a closer look at the 'Languran' enforcement vessel of the Fisheries Department used to monitor Brunei waters with assistance from the Royal Brunei Navy, Air Force, Marine Police, Internal Security Department, Immigration, Customs, Intelligence Directorates of the Ministry of Defence, Labour, Forestry and Marine Department. In 2006, four foreign vessels were detained for encroaching and fishing in Brunei waters.

HRH ended his visit by performing midday prayers at Setia Ali mosque in Muara and a luncheon at the Royal Brunei Navy.

HRH's visit was a follow up and in continuous support to the efforts of His Majesty's government in ensuring that every concerned agency remains alert and responsive towards the economic progress and contributes to the country's prosperity. - Borneo Bulletin (27th June 2007)