SINGAPORE: A high-tech fish farm, capable of producing up to 20 times the "minimum production level" of coastal farms, was officially opened by Senior of Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon on Tuesday (Nov 19).
The S$4 million farm called Eco-Ark is contained within a platform measuring 48m by 28m anchored about 5km off Changi Point ferry terminal. It uses a closed containment aquaculture system developed by the Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (ACE).
It will eventually produce up to 166 metric tonnes of fish like barramundi, red snapper and grouper each year in its four tanks, each with a capacity of 475,000 litres.
The fish farm is expected to operate at full capacity in three months' time.
Its closed containment system makes it more resilient compared to other coastal fish farms.
"Coastal aquaculture farms currently employ open net cage farming systems which makes them vulnerable to environmental threats,” said Dr Koh, adding that plankton blooms, oil spills, waste discharge and warmer waters from climate change are existential threats to these farms.
Poor practices in conventional open farming systems can also result in water pollution, affecting marine biodiversity, he added.
But the closed containment system developed for Eco-Ark addresses these issues.
“Developed with support from the SFA’s (Singapore Food Agency) Agriculture Productivity Fund, the Eco-Ark combines Offshore and Marine Technology with a Recirculating Aquaculture System to filter and treat seawater, kill bacteria and germs and reduce vulnerability to external conditions,” said Dr Koh.
The Agriculture Productivity Fund provides funding support for farms to adopt and develop new technologies and systems.
The Eco-Ark is also “manpower and space efficient” noted Dr Koh. It requires about 1,400 sq m of sea-space and two workers to have an annual yield of 166 tonnes of fish.
This is just about 14 per cent of sea-space that current coastal fish farms need, said Dr Koh.
Eco-Ark's ability to produce more with fewer resources is aligned to Singapore’s "30 by 30" vision to produce 30 per cent of the country’s nutritional needs locally by 2030.
Currently, Singapore produces less than 10 per cent of its needs.
“A key pillar of our agri-food and tech industry is aquaculture. Our aquaculture is one of the most efficient forms of animal protein food production and one of the fastest-growing food producing sectors,” said Dr Koh.
A NEW TECHNOLOGY
What sets Eco-Ark apart from other floating aquaculture closed containment system farms is its patented Novel Offshore Advanced Hull system (NOAHs).
Water from the sea is drawn in through three large pumps and filtered with ozone technology which kills off all pathogens in the sea water. The water passes through the four fish tanks and a second filtration system purifies fish waste and fish feed from the water and returns it to the sea.
According to ACE CEO Leow Ban Tat, NOAHs is “game-changing” because of the manpower and energy savings created by the system.
Although the Eco-Ark is newly opened, Mr Leow already has grand plans for the future. He hopes to open two more Eco-Arks, one with eight tanks and the other with 10. He eventually aims to open an Eco-Ark farm in every country.