November 20, 2023
Singapore launches RAS farm housed in 20-foot container
Aqualita Ecotechnology, a Singapore-based aquaculture system company, has recently established a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) housed in a single 20-foot container in the city-state.
The development was hailed as the first time such a fish farm of its kind was set up in one of Singapore's many public housing towns. Located in the regional centre of Tampines, the RAS farm is also part of a two-year initiative — called "Our Fish Storey" — that highlights a commitment to eco-sustainability.
"Our Fish Storey" aims to drive community food resilience as well as help to realise Singapore's "30 by 30" goal — the country's desire to expand its agri-food sector's capability to sustainably produce 30% of its nutritional needs by 2030.
"It is crucial to acknowledge that Singapore currently imports more than 90% of our food supply leaving us vulnerable to challenges posed by climate change, market volatilities and disease outbreaks," said Masagos Zulkifli, Singapore's Minister for Social and Family Development, in his speech during the farm's official launch on November 19.
"The COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the beginning of the circuit breaker, brought to light our dependence on external sources for essential sustenance. This underscores the urgency to boost our food security through local food production."
According to the minister, Aqualita Ecotechnology will sell fish to fishmongers in Tampines at cost price, ensuring cheaper fish for residents and lower foot miles and carbon footprint of delivering them.
The company's container farm produces jade perch which is considered "safe, scalable and sustainable," a press release stated. Operations at the facility do not require antibiotic use and can mitigate pollution caused by unconsumed feed.
"Parameters of the growing environment can be remotely monitored, reducing the need for on-site staff," the press release added. "A single system can produce up to 1,200 kg of jade perch annually, within a space of about 15 square metres."
Aqualita is a start-up created by Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory in 2021 to introduce more than 15 years of aquaculture research innovation into the market.
The company, which sources its fingerlings from Aqualita's nurseries, hopes to achieve its first harvest in four to six months. It is also involved in a project that seeks to create feed which can decrease the period of fish growth to one month.
"Jade perch is actually an omnivore – not a carnivore or herbivore," Goh Chin Heng, director of technology at Aqualita, told local media The Straits Times. "But many farms are using carnivore feed for the fish…" This feeding practice can lead to excessive oil deposits in the fish's abdominal region, causing health issues.
"Abdominal fat also adds to the weight of the fish, but it's something that will typically be thrown away during processing and ends up in the waste bin," Goh added.
Barramundi, red snapper, hybrid grouper, tilapia and murray cod were previously considered for farming in the container facility.
Containerised fish farms, a game-changer for land-scarce Singapore, can produce at least 25% more fish by weight when compared to conventional fish farms. Harvest time is cut down by 15% thanks to better feed, disease management and control over farming parameters.