Remarks by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Opening Ceremony of Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (ACE) Nursery® and Post-Harvest Facility on 20 November 2020, at ACE Eco-Ark
Mr Ong Beng Ann, Chairman, ACE
Mr Leow Ban Tat, CEO, ACE
Ladies and Gentlemen
1 Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to be invited to launch the Aquaculture Centre of Excellence’s (or ACE’s) Nursery and Post-Harvest Facility.
2 I am very happy to be here today. Not only am I seeing one of our best, but it is also a very significant day, as we see the launch and opening of this facility. It is quite unimaginable, with the rest of the world really struggling with COVID-19, that we have here an opening ceremony, done in a very uniquely Singapore way, keeping to 50 people, seated apart, with our masks on most of the time. All the more gratifying is that this is a Singapore homegrown company, with our own technology, with our own financing, and with our own support.
3 And I am very glad to be part of this journey, and I would just like to say that it really signifies the Singapore spirit — we would not imagine that in such a small country with such limited sea space that this is possible, that we are not thinking about fish farming in its conventional way, that we are not looking for sea space in the conventional way, but we are really creating new solutions that will give us so much more out of our resources in the future.
4 Last year, the Government announced our ‘30 by 30’ goal to produce 30 per cent of our nutritional needs locally by 2030. To achieve this ambitious goal, my Ministry and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) are committed to work closely with our farmers and other partners to transform Singapore’s agri-food sector into one that is highly productive, innovative and sustainable.
5 This ’30 by 30’ goal could not have come at a more critical time. As Singapore imports over 90 per cent of our food, we are vulnerable to disruptions in our food supply. We have witnessed first-hand how a pandemic such as COVID-19 can have debilitating effects on food supply chains. These vulnerabilities will become more acute over time, as global crop and fishery yields are projected to be impacted by climate change. Producing our food locally is an important strategy to strengthen the resilience of Singapore’s food supply.
6 Besides affecting food production, changes in the climate and adverse weather conditions also subject our fish farmers, in particular those with open-net cage systems, to greater environmental risks. Some of our fish farms in the Straits of Johor encountered plankton bloom in early 2015 and saw their fish stock affected or even wiped out overnight.
7 To help our coastal farmers to transform and put in place new climate-resilient and productivity-enhancing technologies, SFA’s $63 million Agriculture Productivity Fund (or APF) co-funds the adoption of innovative technologies and systems that can boost farm productivity and capabilities. SFA is also working with Institutes of Higher Learning to support farmers in research and development, transfer of technology and by providing technical assistance.
8 I am glad that ACE’s Eco-Ark has benefitted from the APF. The Eco-Ark is one of the world’s first purpose-built floating closed-containment fish farms. ACE has combined knowledge and experiences in offshore and marine technology to develop closed-containment farming solutions. Eco-Ark’s system allows it to adapt its methods and switch between flow-through and recirculating system whenever water conditions become adverse to ensure fish survival. It also filters and treats seawater for the farmed fishes before discharging it back to the sea. This exemplifies the potential of fish farming that is highly productive and sustainable for the marine environment.
9 As Singapore ramps up our local food production through farms like Eco-Ark, we can further secure our food supply by managing our risks across the food production chain. For example, high quality fish fingerlings is a critical farming input in aquaculture. With the establishment of ACE’s new fish nursery, the farm is now able to produce its own fish fingerlings. This enables the farm to diversify its sources of fingerlings, reduce the risk of supply disruptions, and thereby enhance the resilience of Singapore’s food fish supply. SFA’s Marine Aquaculture Centre will continue to provide technical support to ACE in their hatchery design and fingerling production technology.
10 ACE’s new Post-Harvest Facility, which has the capacity to perform procedures such as cleaning, de-gutting and packing of freshly harvested local produce, will also close the gap between farm and table. This will reduce spoilage and food wastage across the supply chain, and ensure fresher produce for consumers.
11 I encourage all Singaporeans to choose local produce, such as fish produced by local farms, as they are fresher and produced closer to home. In doing so, Singaporeans will support the growth and development of our local farms like Eco-Ark, contribute to Singapore’s food security, and reduce the carbon footprint of our food supply.
12 Let me conclude by congratulating ACE on the opening of your Nursery and Post-Harvest Facility. I look forward to seeing more home-grown fish products from Eco-Ark on our retail shelves and dinner tables. Thank you.