PETALING JAYA: It's official -- the highly prized Malaysian golden arowana has been declared as the best golden arowana species in the world by an international body.
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and Wild Fauna and Flora) had certified the species, which was unique to Malaysia, as the best, Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir said.
"The Malaysian golden arowana (scleropages formosus) fetches the highest premium compared to other species," he said yesterday after visiting the Bintong Arowana Farm in Bukit Merah, Perak.
The 40ha farm is the world's largest cluster of arowana fish farms.
North Malaysia Arowana Breeders Association secretary Sahibul Anwar Arba'e said the species, also called kelisa emas, could only be found in the wild in Bukit Merah Lake and Sungai Kerian.
"It is not found elsewhere in Malaysia or any other country.
"That is why we are demanding that other exporters from Singapore and Indonesia maintain the name Malaysian golden arowana," he said, adding that CITES had given export permits to breeders in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia only.
Sahibul, who is also the managing director of Crossback Arowana Bukit Merah, said a young golden arowana, which was about 7cm to 10cm long, could fetch up to RM1,500 (S$620).
"We can only export golden arowanas that are more than 15cm long, which take between six and seven months to grow to that length," he said, adding that the export price was between RM2,500 and RM3,000 each.
"During a recent auction in China, our golden arowana fetched RM38,000," he said, adding it was about 35cm long.
Sahibul said golden arowanas were fertile between the ages of three and 20 years, adding that the fish could live up to 50 years and grow up to a metre long.
He said golden arowana breeding was a lucrative business.
Sahibul added that there were 32 CITES licence holders in Malaysia.