Singaporeans eat a lot of fish. How much is a lot?
Last year, each Singaporean ate, on average, 21 kg of fish. Together, we imported 150,000 tonnes of fish, the equivalent in weight of 3,000 blue whales put together!
That is a lot of fish, though I did not contribute any, being a vegetarian.
To reduce our dependence on fish imports, AVA actively helps our local fish farms raise their productivity through R&D. Much of this scientific test-bedding work is done at AVA’s Marine Aquaculture Centre (MAC) in St John’s Island.
I paid the MAC a visit recently.
This is not your normal office. Nobody lives in St John’s Island, so our staff members have to commute to St John’s Island daily by ferry. The ride takes about half an hour from Marina South Pier.
They are a passionate bunch. They love their work. I spoke to a young scientist currently pursuing his postgraduate studies on fish genetics who uses advanced molecular technology to produce fast growing and disease-resistant Asian seabass. Advances in the study of the human genome have benefited the other branches of biology.
The objective is to get the fish to reproduce and grow faster. First, our MAC scientists have identified fast growing, good quality fish of several locally popular species, such as the Asian Seabass, Pompano and Tilapia.
Second, the challenge is to get them to spawn. This is about getting the right environmental conditions for the fishes. Fortunately, fishes are not as fussy as Jia Jia and Kai Kai.
Third, when the babies (fish larvae) are born, we give them a leg up, an additional boost of special diet to ensure healthy growth.
Finally, the frys are transferred to commercial fish farms for scaling up as adult fish.
These R&D efforts have been valuable. They have helped boost our local fish production steadily, from 4% of total consumption in 2009 to 8% currently.
Lifecycle of an Asian Seabass
Our fish farms have come together to brand their locally farmed fish as “SG Fish”. They are labelled as such in the supermarket.
As AVA continues to work closely with the industry to bolster our fish supply, you can help support our local farms by buying “SG Fish” the next time you do your marketing.
Our target is to raise the market share of SG Fish to 15%, from today’s 8%. This should not be too difficult. With your help, of course!
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