Batang fish soup, sambal stingray, deep-fried dory - these commonly seen dishes at hawker centres prove that we Singaporeans are massive fish lovers. But where do we get our fish from, and how much of it is from local farms? Here’s a look at where Singapore sources its fish from:
Local fish farms
Our local fish farms produce about 9-10% of the nation’s fish consumption. There are around 110 fish culture farms, and they are split into two groups: land-based and sea-based. Most belong to the latter and are found along the Straits of Johor. These sea-based fish farms offer popular saltwater fish such as grouper and red snapper, and contribute about 85% of our local fish production.
You may picture sea-based farms as kelongs, but many of them are now a lot more high-tech. They tend to be located by the coast along the Straits of Johor. Aside from fish, some also offer shellfish like oysters as well as crab.
Land-based fish farms make up the rest of local fish sources. There are 12 land-based fish farms in Singapore and they practise a variety of farming methods. For example, here at Atlas Aquaculture, we use a closed-loop recycling system that helps us recycle and reuse over 95% of our water. It also allows us to collect data from our fish to optimise their health and finetune the way to do things. Some other land-based farming methods include the open pond system as well as vertical farming.
Be it sea-based or land-based, many fish farms are going through continuous R&D to improve on the quality of their seafood and farming methods. The government is also encouraging more research into this topic. In 2021, the SFA awarded $23 million in funding to 12 R&D projects in sustainable urban food production - eight of them are related to aquaculture!
Despite all the R&D from local farms, Singapore’s high demand for seafood means we still need to rely heavily on imported fish. Most of our fish and seafood are imported from our neighbours - Malaysia and Indonesia.
In 2016, we imported over 43,000 metric tons of seafood and fish from Malaysia, and over 30,000 metric tons from Indonesia. Many fish from these two countries arrive in Singapore daily via boats and are delivered straight to Jurong and Senoko fishery ports! Other than Malaysia and Indonesia, we also get our fish and seafood from practically everywhere around the world, including China, Australia and the US.
Aside from reaching supply targets, imported seafood also helps to widen our food options. For example, that salmon in your chirashi don is likely to have come from Norway, which is the world’s biggest producer of salmon. However, the maguro (tuna) might have come from Indonesia - the country was responsible for about 16% of the world’s production of tuna in 2018!
So there is no way that Singapore can run away from imported fish if we want to continue enjoying the variety of dishes that are offered at restaurants around the island. That being said, it is imperative for us to make sure our supply of seafood remains reliable by diversifying our sources.
At Atlas Aquaculture, we contribute to the local seafood supply with a variety of fish cultivated at our farm. We take pride in our cutting-edge water technology and prioritise the quality of our fish. Here are some ways in which we make sure our fish are healthy and disease-free:
Habitat: Our fish live in an environment with optimum water quality to minimise their stress and keep them healthy.
Husbandry: Our animal behaviour specialists ensure that our fish are well taken care of.
Feed: We use high-quality feed that is good for both our fish and water system.
Harvesting: We harvest at an optimal size to maintain peak quality and reduce waste.