No, it is not a new song nor is it a colorful musical instrument. It is the name of a fish.

Red Drum

The story of Sea Fish Farming has started with Red Drum. A few years ago, a couple of entrepreneurs had the dream of starting a new industry, not just a business, in Mauritius. We are a small island and yet we have a large portion of sea which has not been exploited to its fullest potential. Some four years ago, after much battling to convince the government authorities to obtain the necessary permits and a plot of land at Pointe aux Feuilles and some acres of the lagoon on lease the entrepreneurs started a Sea Fish Farm. Today, Ferme Marine de Mahebourg (FMM) with a total paid up capital of some 100 million rupees, has in its first phase proven that Sea Fish Farming is feasible in Mauritius.

Red Drum are now spawning in an ultra model, world class hatchery, then raised at sea in special fishing nets and finally bred to the size required by the market. Most of the technical hitches have been sorted out. The installation respects all the international environment and hygiene safety norms. Exports to various overseas markets have started, and the fish has received a good response on the local market particular in the up market end of the hotels.

FMM is now tackling its next phase of development. By December this year a processing plant to pack fish filets for export to the very stringent European norms should be on stream. The total production capacity now stands at 1000tons annually. The path of sea fish farming has been opened by FMM. Over and above the RED Drum, FMM are now also breeding Guele Pave and Cordonnier our local fish breeds. Cobia which is also an imported fish is also being raised for breeding. It is worthy to note that it took over 3 years for the hatchery to get some of the imported Red Drum which landed in Mauritius on the 14 December2002 to reach maturity to lay eggs.

Should Mauritius seriously drive aquaculture as a priority industry, in the coming 5 to 8 years production capacity of 10 fold the present production level could be looked at by Mauritius. At an export price of 6Euros per kilo we would be looking at turnover of 60 million Euros.

A visit to FMM is really a worthwhile trip. To witness the birth of an industry which could be one of the pillar industries of the island in years to come is fascinating.

Hats off to the entrepreneurs who without much drumming are getting Mauritius out of red.