Land-based fish farming worth nurturing

I am impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit and courage of Mr Pay Bok Sing, who ventured into rearing seawater fish on a land-based farm ("Koi farm owner changed tack - and did it his way"; July 18).

Mr Pay's success is testament to his tenacity, hard work, perseverance and innovation in overcoming difficulties.

Singapore's coastal fish farms have shown themselves to be vulnerable to unfavourable weather conditions, pollution and algae blooms, among other threats.

In order to augment the seafood industry and enhance our nation's food security, the Government should consider adopting Mr Pay's model of land-based aquaculture on a large scale.

His system allows for a high level of control over conditions within the fish habitat, mitigating threats such as poor water quality and the spread of fish parasites.

Moreover, the harvesting and transportation of live fish is greatly simplified if fish farms are located on land rather than offshore. It could also engender potential cost savings for producers and consumers.

Perhaps the most significant benefit would be that of increased output - Mr Pay claims that his system can produce five times the quantity of prawns and three times more groupers per unit volume than conventional coastal fish farming.

Using this new system, fish farms could be sited within multi-storey buildings at the fringes of our industrial estates.

The Government could incentivise growth in this sector by offering concessionary rental fees and tax benefits.

With proper planning, such facilities could complement coastal fish farms to increase production of seafood.

Given Singapore's geographical constraints and strategic concerns, seawater fish farming is an innovation worth nurturing, allowing our nation to weather the storms that may lie ahead with regard to our food supply.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline 'Land-based fish farming worth nurturing'. Print Edition | Subscribe