First local fish farm to have own post-harvest facility

Eco-Ark's post-nursery (right) and cultivation (left) tanks. It is the first of 109 coastal fish farms here to have its own post-harvest facility on board, making it easier for consumers to trace the origins of the fish they eat.
Eco-Ark's post-nursery (right) and cultivation (left) tanks. It is the first of 109 coastal fish farms here to have its own post-harvest facility on board, making it easier for consumers to trace the origins of the fish they eat.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

A high-tech fish farm off the coast of Pulau Ubin can now process the fish it has hatched from eggs before delivering the produce to the doorsteps of Singapore customers.

Eco-Ark is home to 30 tonnes of fish including barramundi, red snapper fingerlings and groupers - all raised without the use of vaccines, antibiotics or hormones.

Said to be one of the first floating closed-containment fish farms in the world, Eco-Ark officially opened its nursery and harvest facilities last Friday.

It is the first of 109 coastal fish farms here to have its own post-harvest facility on board, making it easier for consumers to trace the origins of the fish they eat.

With the addition of these facilities, the farm has reduced its food miles, in this case the distance food is transported from fish egg to finished product, from 60km to a mere 60m.

Previously, Eco-Ark's post-processing facility was located at Jurong Fishery Port.

Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu, who was guest of honour at the farm's opening ceremony, said Eco-Ark's nursery can bolster Singapore's supply of fish bred for food.

This supply has been threatened before by climate change and adverse weather conditions.

Some of Singapore's fish farms in Johor have seen their fish stocks "wiped out overnight" after they encountered plankton bloom in 2015, added Ms Fu.

Fish reared on board closed-contained fish farms like Eco-Ark are not exposed to the open sea, unlike those raised in kelongs, hence they are sheltered from such risks.

At the post-harvest facility, which is housed within Eco-Ark's 48m by 28m structure, freshly harvested fish are cleaned, gutted and packed.

"This will reduce spoilage and food wastage across the supply chain, and ensure fresher produce for consumers," said Ms Fu.

Calling on Singaporeans to opt for fish produced by local farms, Ms Fu added that doing so will contribute to Singapore's food security and reduce the nation's carbon footprint.

Developed with the support of the Singapore Food Agency's Agriculture Productivity Fund, the high-tech fish farm brings the Republic closer to its target of meeting 30 per cent of its nutritional needs with locally grown or reared produce by 2030.

Eco-Ark can produce 166 tonnes of fish a year, about 20 times more than the minimum level set for coastal fish farms in Singapore.

Last year, Singapore farms produced 4,707 tonnes of fish, accounting for about 10 per cent of local consumption.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2020, with the headline 'First local fish farm to have own post-harvest facility'. Print Edition | Subscribe