When it came to deciding where to study to realise his passion, Mr Chew looked no further
than the Singapore campus of James Cook University (JCU), the only tertiary institution to
offer an Aquaculture major and Higher Degree by Research course locally. Mr Chew graduated
with a Graduate Diploma of Research Methods (Tropical Environments and Societies) in early
2019, and is currently a Higher Degree by Research candidate researching on barramundi
health at the university.
“JCU is world-famous for higher education in tropical aquaculture, and a global leader in
applied research in this field. So the choice for me was obvious,” he explains.
Meeting a growing need
JCU’s Aquaculture programme started in 2017, at a time when Singapore and the world was
facing increasing food security challenges. Singapore imports more than 90 per cent of food
consumed in the country. According to the Singapore Food Agency (previously Agri-Food and
Veterinary Authority of Singapore), only nine per cent of all fish eaten in Singapore was
produced locally in 2018.
With looming threats such as global pandemics on potential disruptions in food supply, the
government is looking for ways to improve the country’s food resilience. Last year,
Singapore announced the “30 by 30” initiative, which aims to raise Singapore’s local food
production level from the current 10 per cent to 30 per cent of total food needs by 2030 —
mainly through high-tech vegetable farms and aquaculture farms.
The focus on Aquaculture as a source of food means a growing demand for Aquaculture
graduates, observes Dr Susan Gibson-Kueh, Senior Research Fellow Aquaculture at JCU. “There
will be a pressing need for graduates with industry-relevant skills. Aquaculture is the
fastest-growing food production sector globally, and highly dependent on technology to
increase productivity. Suitably-skilled graduates will be needed to manage, operate and
support this industry in Singapore and the entire Asia Pacific regions.”