GenoMar tilapia hatchery in Singapore. (Photo: Stock File)
Aquaculture makes environmentally friendly efforts
Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 01:00 (GMT + 9)
The aquaculture industry in Singapore is shifting toward state-of-the-art research and farming techniques that play down the burgeoning amount of farms’ environmental impact.
Research has been focusing on monitoring water quality and reducing pollution while raising better and more plentiful fish, among other projects.
The Singapore Government’s food security intends to bolster local fish supplies from 5 to 15 per cent of national consumption in the next five years.
Aquaculture farms have multiplied recently, growing from 92 licensed offshore farms in 2005 to 106 in 2009. Two freshwater fish farms and three marine-fish and prawn farms exist on land, reports The Straits Times.
Aquaculture researchers are being sought out for various projects.
A marine aquaculture research workshop hosted by Australia’s James Cook University (JCU) in September attracted 40 delegates from Singapore and regional aquaculture farms, government agencies and farm gear suppliers. The workshop was followed by a public lecture on environmental sustainability at Australian aquaculture farms which was attended by 300 people.
According to the United Nations (UN), 3 billion people depend on fish for their main source of protein. As wild fish stocks are in the decline, farmed fish is becoming increasingly valuable.
Aquaculture makes up about 50 per cent of the globe’s food-fish supply and is expected to surpass wild fish.
Fish farms’ pollution via fish waste and leftover food that sinks, decomposes and brings algal blooms, however, remains a big problem. At the JCU public lecture, aquaculture professor Rocky de Nys described how this can be turned into a process that generates salable algae species which can, in turn, be converted into biofuels, cattle feed, fertiliser and even fish feed.
However, successful applications to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority’s (AVA) USD 5 million-Food Fund have not yet been completed even though applications opened in 2009.
Four out of 11 projects approved by AVA went to commercial aquaculture firm Barramundi Asia, which currently runs sites off Pulau Semakau and is planning one off Pulau Senang. Barramundi hopes to go from 500 to 3,000 tonnes of fish each year within two years, Today Online reports.
National University of Singapore emeritus professor Lam Toong Jin said that research on the impact of aquaculture on the environment remains lacking.
By Natalia Real