SINGAPORE - A high-tech farm cultivating trout is set to begin operating in Neo Tiew next year.
The farm will be capable of producing about 1,200 tonnes of rainbow trout annually, boosting Singapore's supply of locally farmed fish, Blue Aqua International, the shrimp aquaculture technology firm behind the new farm, said on Tuesday (Jan 11).
That figure is about a quarter of the current annual local farmed fish production.
From 2016 to 2019, local fish production rates were between 4,578 tonnes and 4,851 tonnes annually, while 2020 saw the production of about 3,960 tonnes, as farms adjusted their output owing to lower sales during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Blue Aqua said the project will help to contribute to Singapore's goal of producing 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030.
Its group president and chief executive, Dr Farshad Shishehchian, said trout has gained prominence in recent years as a premium cold water fish that tastes similar to salmon, adding that salmon is widely popular in Singapore and in the region.
"Trout flesh is also a very appealing orange-red colour, with salmon flesh paler in comparison," said Dr Farshad.
He added that from a production perspective, trout farming "ticks all the boxes".
A steady supply of good eggs is available in the market, and it is a species that allows for high-density stocking of up to 150kg per cubic metre, said Dr Farshad.
The species also yields a good feed conversion ratio, and it being a freshwater species also helps to keep the cost of production low in Singapore, he said.
"All these help to counter the cost of it being a cold-water production system."
The farm will be a ground-level development, utilising tall tanks with a high-density production system.
With construction set to cost about $20 million, Dr Farshad said Blue Aqua is hoping to tap grants offered by the Singapore Food Agency and Enterprise Singapore to fund the project.
The farm will use a recirculating aquaculture system by Danish aquaculture engineering company Assentoft Aqua, which operates a research and development centre in Singapore.
Such systems allow fish to be cultivated in controlled indoor environments, and are suitable for farms with limited space and manpower.
Dr Fashad said Assentoft Aqua's system has a small footprint, and is energy efficient.
Blue Aqua will incorporate artificial intelligence and automation into the system to increase production through data analytics, he added.
The new farm is part of Blue Aqua's plans to invest $45 million to grow its aquaculture operations here over the next three years.
The firm operates a shrimp farm and hatchery here, while it is currently constructing a fish cage farm.