From the outside, there’s little to suggest the nondescript grey shipping container could help transform Singapore’s food security. Yet the city-state has high hopes for the project lurking within the 20-foot-vessel, reports The Telegraph.
Deposited on a gravel plot in eastern Singapore, this is the country’s first urban fish farm – and some say it could help the metropolis hit an ambitious target to produce 30 percent of its food by 2030.
The project, called ‘Our Fish Storey’, was unveiled by the start-up Aqualita Ecotechnology and the local council this weekend. It will see the fish jade perch farmed in Tampines, a central Singapore suburb close to Changi airport, in a “litmus test” to gauge consumer interest and confirm feasibility.
“By using up spaces that are not utilized, we can grow fish in an urban city – within grass plots, within empty warehouses,” Goh Chin Heng, director of local startup Aqualita Ecotechnology, told Channel News Asia. “We can easily farm fish anywhere … and can easily relocate, when the site is up, to a new place and restart a new farm very quickly.”
According to the company, one container – which costs close to £18,000 to set up, bar land costs – could produce up to 1,200kg of jade perch a year, a freshwater fish rich in Omega 3. The first harvest will be four to six months away and other varieties, including barramundi, tilapia, and red snapper, could also be farmed in the future.
Aqualita Ecotechnology added that the approach – known as a recirculating aquaculture system – could also improve fishing efficiency.
Not only are the three fish tanks inside housed in a cleaner, more controlled space, but the approach reduces the amount of pollution caused by uneaten feed and eradicates the need for antibiotics. Overuse of these critical drugs in agriculture is a major driver of antibiotic resistance, dubbed a “silent pandemic”.
The start-up said it is also exploring whether solar panels could power the fishing containers.
Dr. Essam Yassin Mohammed, a senior director of Aquatic Food Systems at CGIAR and Director General of WorldFish, told the Telegraph that the “innovative” project is “a great application of the recirculating aquaculture technologies to the local context of Singapore, which is characterized by land scarcity and the need to [farm fish] more efficiently.”
The project is not the world’s first. In 2016, the world’s biggest Atlantic salmon producer, Marine Harvest, launched a project to build salmon farms in containers on unwanted cargo ships, while Mexican company Atarraya uses metal boxes to house shrimp farms. Initiatives have also been developed in countries including Finland and South Africa.
Dr Mohammed said that while there are drawbacks to these initiatives – including setup costs and the need for specialist technical expertise – they are likely to play a critical role in bolstering food security globally and nationally.
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Source: The Telegraph