Buying your favourite fresh fish from your heartland HDB neighbourhood market that is reared in a container fish farm, how does this idea sounds to you? This is not a fairy tale, it’s now available in Singapore, with Tampines leading the way in sustainable urban fish farming with the first HDB container fish farm in Tampines. This is known as “Our Fish Storey”, is an initiative by Tampines Town Council, a testament to their commitment to eco-sustainability.
On the morning of Sunday19th November 2023, Our Fish Storey was officially launched by Members of Parliament (MPs) for Tampines GRC: Mr Masagos Zulkifli, the Minister for Social and Family Development, Second Minister for Health and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs; Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment and Ministry of Manpower; Mr Desmond Choo, Mayor of North East District; and Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment and Ministry of Transport.
Tampines Town Council x Aqualita Ecotechnology Partnership – “Grow More with Less”
Tampines Town Council has partnered with local company, Aqualita Ecotechnology, to implement a Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) to grow jade perch that is safe, scalable and sustainable. This project is catalysed by Temasek Foundation, and was developed based on more than 15 years of research by Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory.
The story of Our Fish Storey
Our Fish Storey is part of Tampines Goes Farming, this is a series of projects that are supporting Singapore’s “30 by 30” goal to grow food here for food security. Tampines town is supporting local farms’ efforts by identifying under-utilised spaces where climate-resilient and resource-efficient urban farming methods can be tested and implemented. Tampines also boasts a tilapia fish farm and a rooftop vegetable farm. All these projects have one thing in common – engaging the community and encouraging residents to adopt a sustainable farm-to-table lifestyle.
Our Fish Storey consists of Aqualita’s single 20-foot container housing the RAS. This is a highly modular system that addresses land scarcity and labour challenges in Singapore. With this standalone system, it provides a cleaner and more controlled environment, and is not affected by adverse climatic conditions and harmful organisms. This also eliminates the need for antibiotics, allowing the up-cycling of fish waste, and reducing pollution caused by uneaten feed. The parameters of this modular growing environment can be remotely monitored, reducing the need for on-site staff. A single system can produce up to 1,200kg of jade perch annually, within a space of 15 square metres.
More than just the efficient production of fresh fish, the community-centric approach will also offer other benefits, such as creating employment opportunities within the community, as well as serving as a space for educational activities. Aqualita and the Tampines Town Council will also collaborate with volunteer groups to ensure that lower-income families and those in need have access to fresh, nutritious fish.
Since the fish will be farmed on-site in Tampines, this will significantly reduce delivery time and transport costs. To ensure that more Tampines residents can access fresh fish with far fewer food miles, the Tampines Round Market & Food Centre Merchants’ Association is collaborating with local fishmongers to sell the jade perch. This will further support residents’ efforts towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
Mr Desmond Choo, the Mayor of North East District and Chairman of Tampines Town Council said, “Singapore is heavily reliant on food imports and faces the risk of supply disruptions, like the one we experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. With modern urban farming being implemented in Tampines, we hope to contribute to the nation’s “30 by 30” food goal. I am heartened to see our progress in food sustainability and hope our residents will support this initiative and enjoy the farm-to-fork goodness.”
Mr Lim Hock Chuan, Head of Programmes of Temasek Foundation, said “Together with Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, Temasek Foundation is happy to support this successful deployment of ‘Our Fish Storey’, a Recirculation Aquaculture System by Aqualita, as a first step towards commercialisation. This partnership with Tampines Town Council is important so that we can bring such stacked container fish farm to more communities, reduce our carbon footprint and ultimately, enhance Singapore’s food security and resilience in the long term.”
Mr Peter Chia, CEO of Aqualita Ecotechnology commented, “We are delighted to partner Tampines Town Council to give a glimpse of what the future of sustainable urban fish farming – where technology and innovation meets food security to benefit communities – could be to an urban city like Singapore. We are thankful for the support from TTC and all our partners as well as the various regulatory agencies in making this project possible. We hope that we can help make more affordable fresh fish available to the residents of Tampines and do so with a smaller environmental and ecological footprint. We welcome parties interested in joining us on this journey to reach out to us so that we can scale this solution to other parts of Singapore together.”
Food x Food Technology x Food Sustainability
The sustainable urban fish farming inside a container located in the heartlands neighbourhood of Singapore strikes a chord in me, bringing the topics that I have an interest in together, on one of my favourite topics – food, followed by the topic of sustainability and how technology can play key roles in both food production and sustainability sectors.
While urban fish farming isn’t new, urban fish farming inside a container placed in our neighbourhoods, is not only unique and refreshing, this idea might work well for our land scarce Singapore, as we strive towards “30 by 30” goal to build up Singapore agriculture and food industry capability and capacity to sustainably produce 30% of our nutritional needs by 2030.
I hope this urban fish farming in a container can be further expanded into other HDB heartlands, not only boosting Singapore’s food sustainability goals, it’s educational as well and can help push the topic of sustainability (and its wide scope) further and closer to the people.
Last but not least, I would really like to try this farm-to-table freshly cooked fish from the urban container fish farming. Looks like a trip to Tampines Round Market and Food Centre is on the cards.
* Information courtesy of Tampines Town Council and Gloo *