Riding The Wave Of Modern Aquaculture

AsianScientist (January 26, 2023) – In recent years, an increasing proportion of fish and shellfish has been farmed rather than caught. Producing over half of the world’s supply, the Asia-Pacific region is impressively the world’s largest producer of fish – leading to a large market that is consistently looking for new technologies to increase efficiency.

In fact, Singapore’s nearest neighbors in Southeast Asia have consistently achieved some of the largest numbers in Asia outside of China – with Indonesia producing around 6 million tonnes of fish annually. The region’s leaders intend to maintain yields by investing in advanced aquaculture technology.

As one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, Singapore has launched various initiatives to reduce dependence on imports for a stable and affordable water supply. Many of such initiatives focus on optimizing the country’s use of water resources. Because of this unique situation, Singapore has since become a global nexus for water and wastewater technologies, prompting the nation to be considered a ‘water hub’ in Southeast Asia.

Find out how companies can take advantage of available opportunities in the aquaculture industry, for Singapore and the region.

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Swimming against the current

Amongst a sea of ​​large and successful fish farms, Southeast Asia is also home to numerous small farms. A notable challenge they face is a lack of access to funds to invest in technology and infrastructure that can support the transition from traditional methods to sustainable and intensive aquaculture.

Today, small farmers face an increasing risk of disease when fish are farmed on a large scale, as well as the risk of compromising the quality of the farm’s products. While rural areas with much wider land and sea area are available, these areas often lack access to infrastructure such as roads and electricity. The right infrastructure can support technological solutions that can maintain water quality and sustain high-intensity aquaculture production.

This lack of access may be linked to another pain point. According to experts speaking at an IPI roundtable meeting last year on sustainable aquaculture water management, smallholder farmers do not necessarily receive sufficient benefits to support capital due to the complex structure of shellfish value chains, further limiting farmers’ capacity to afford capital-intensive technology. To make matters more complicated, other production costs such as logistics, feed and labor have also reportedly increased. This in turn continues to drive up prices for consumers and further inefficiencies in production that can result in massive amounts of food waste.

“We have to adjust every step of the way before we can help the farmers,” said Mr Djames Lim, Managing Director of Lim Shrimp. Lim has also indicated that the success factor would be ensuring that farmers have the opportunity to invest in technology to address their challenges.

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The role of technology

Some of these challenges can be overcome with affordable cutting-edge technology capable of uplifting smallholder farmers and growing Southeast Asia’s aquaculture industry.

There is an opportunity for aspiring tech players in Southeast Asia to develop innovative solutions – especially when it comes to water management and water monitoring. For example, through closed-loop production and controlled environments, the use of biofiltration, as in a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), for local fish farming can enable more sustainable land-based aquaculture with better disease control and higher production levels and a smaller footprint.

Speakers at the aquaculture roundtable also emphasized that aspiring aquaculture entrepreneurs and technology providers must work hand-in-hand with biological experts to develop technology that can meet the unique needs of each species. In fact, monitoring and surveillance technology has already opened up opportunities for early disease detection by allowing farmers to track behaviors such as swimming patterns and skin lesions. But to really maximize the benefits of the technology, the panelists recommend getting a biological expert involved.

“Much of this technology has been developed for freshwater and cold water,” explained Assoc. Prof Jose Domingos from James Cook University Singapore. “A trend I see when newcomers want to adapt the service to marine warm water situations, they try to copy what is in Europe without taking into account production or biological differences.”

More importantly, technology players should be able to adapt not only to geographical concerns, but also socio-economic challenges such as limited profit margins and local farmers’ opportunities. Ultimately, they are convinced that the cost of technological innovations in aquaculture will decrease over time and maintenance will be made more convenient as the demand for technology increases.

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A community at work

The round table discussion made it clear that the task of strengthening the aquaculture industry does not rest solely on the shoulders of the technology providers. Instead, the entire ecosystem needs to come together to ride the wave of opportunity like the growing demand for sustainably farmed seafood to feed the region. Singapore’s aquaculture players can focus on building unique selling points such as consistent supply and offering value-added products such as processed ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook seafood.

While the government supports the growth of the industry, there are still challenges in finding skilled agricultural workers. Local HEIs can fill this gap by training young Singaporeans with the relevant skills. Fortunately, the country’s youth have already shown interest in traversing this field and using automation to increase its potential.

Through a collective effort, Singapore can not only be able to produce food sustainably for the local population, but also contribute to the growth of Southeast Asia’s aquaculture industry.

Asian Scientist Magazine is a content partner of IPI.

Copyright: IPI. Read the original article here.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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