Crown Prince visits MIPR eco-tourism projects

His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office yesterday made a working visit to the fisheries and maritime eco-tourism site which are under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.

The visit was a continuation of a series of working visits by HRH the Crown Prince to the departments under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources for a closer look on the future planning, projects and economic activities.

Upon arrival at one of the sites in Jalan Kota Batu, His Royal Highness was greeted by the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Hj Ahmad bin Hj Jumat; Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, Dato Seri Paduka Haji Eusoff Agaki Hj Ismail; Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Dato Paduka Awang Hj Hamdillah bin Hj Abd Wahab; as well as other senior officials.

The first site visited was the HT Enterprise (HTE), which is currently operating a fisheries eco-tourism project. An overview of HTE's project planning, implementation and development was given by its manager, Awang Hj Mahadi bin Hj Abu Talip.

HRH then proceeded to view the building of the chalets and other facilities related to the project.

HTE is one of the participants who successfully acquired finance through the Enterprise Facilitation Scheme from the government. It is involved in crab and fish rearing activities covering an area of 2.25 hectares on the banks of the mangrove forest swamp in the Brunei Bay. It includes the building of 15 chalets, a restaurant and a conference room, which are now in their final stages, and are expected to be completed in December this year.

From here, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince on a special vessel moved to the Fish Landing Complex in Muara to continue the working visit to the fisheries and maritime eco-tourism site in the waters of Pulau Pilong-Pilongan. This site is located about two nautical miles offshore.

Upon arrival, His Royal Highness observed a demonstration of 'Operasi Menangin', which is one of the joint maritime operations conducted by the Fisheries Department, the Marine Police and the Internal Security Department specifically covering the 500 metres controlled security zone around offshore oil and gas rigs.

It was followed by a demonstration by two trawlers in catching fish. In 2008, a total of 15 commercial trawlers are operating in zone two (three to 200 nautical miles) of the Brunei waters.

The maritime areas around Pulau Pilong-Pilongan are one of the richest waterways with a diverse aquatic species and have a high potential in fisheries output.

The maritime eco-tourism site has the potential to contribute around $27 million in five years through activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, and sports fishing and also the preservation of protected species activities, in particular sea turtles.

The coral reefs around the area are also considered the best, while the western part of the island has been identified as a site to develop the fisheries sector especially using offshore cages.

The Director of Fisheries, Dayang Hjh Hasnah binti Ibrahim, gave a briefing on the site. The view of the coral reefs was also shown with the use of an Undersea Remote Operating Vehicle, as well as a demonstration of scuba diving activities to monitor and evaluate the conditions of the coral reefs.

The work visit ended with a 'santap' at a hotel in Jerudong together with the senior officers and staff of the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and the departments under it. - Borneo Bulletin (22nd August 2008)