2 lots for new seafood farms off Pulau Bukom open for tender , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

2 lots for new seafood farms off Pulau Bukom open for tender

After a two-year delay, the project to farm seafood in the pristine waters off Pulau Bukom for Singapore consumers is under way.

When up and running, the farm in Singapore’s southern waters is expected to beef up local seafood supply by up to 3,465 tonnes a year.

That is equal to about 80 per cent of locally produced seafood, based on the latest food statistics in 2022.

In a statement on Jan 18, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said operators can now bid for two lots in open sea which span 5ha each – or the size of seven football fields – to farm fish and crustaceans.

Ms Wong Sheau Fong, SFA’s director of food infrastructure development and management, said: “Given our limited sea space for farming, farms will need to leverage technology, innovate to increase productivity, and adopt sustainable practices to protect themselves against adverse environmental conditions brought about by climate change.”

In 2022, plans to launch spaces for fish farming off three islands in the southern waters of Singapore raised concerns among academics and nature enthusiasts, who said the farms could take a toll on nearby coral reefs and recreational diving spots.

An environmental impact assessment commissioned earlier by SFA identified the waters around Pulau Satumu, Pulau Jong and Pulau Bukom as likely sites for more fish farms, and were to be put up for tender from the end of 2022.

The sites were shortlisted as they lie outside existing shipping anchorages and fairways, said SFA at the time.

In response to concerns from marine scientists and conservationists, SFA put the tenders for fish farms around Pulau Satumu and Pulau Jong on hold until the completion of more studies, which were done in consultation with researchers and nature groups.

However, in 2023, SFA said it will proceed to call a tender for aquaculture activities off Pulau Bukom because the assessment had shown that other key biodiversity areas will not be affected, and the site did not have as many corals.

The area will be designated for the first closed containment aquaculture system in Singapore’s southern waters.

Such a system results in less pollution to surrounding waters and marine biodiversity as waste matter and excess fish food are not directly discharged into the sea.

Singapore aims to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs by 2030, with seafood being a key pillar in meeting this goal, as it is the most viable protein to be farmed by the island-state.

Based on the latest food statistics in 2022, local farms harvested 7.6 per cent of Singapore’s seafood supply.