Saturday, 26 July 2014

New Lorong Halus Jetty a boost for fish farmers

By Amanda Lee, Channel NewsAsia, 25 Jul 2014

The new S$3.85 million Lorong Halus Jetty was launched on Thursday (July 24). The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it was developed as part of efforts to bolster Singapore's food supply resilience - the location and surrounding infrastructure will enable fish farmers to easily load and unload their produce in Singapore's East.

Farmers will also get a boost as they will be allowed to use the jetty for free during the first three months of operation. The jetty will also help them land their fishes and moor their vessels.

Previously, they used Changi Creek and Senoko Fishery Port, which were considered too far from the fish farms off Pasir Ris. These were also smaller in size and lacking in facilities.

Fish farmers say the new jetty has facilities that make it safer and easier for them.

"You can moor boats at this so-called concrete platform and jetty, which is specially designed so that it is safe to use a lorry crane to move even heavy goods up and down," said Mr Timothy Ng Keat Seng, president of the Fish Farmers Association of Singapore.

Long waits were also common at Changi Creek, said director of Marine Life Aquaculture Loh Tee Wee, who usually waited at least half an hour each time as the landing point would be overcrowded.

As for chief operating officer of Marine Life Aquaculture Frank Tan, the new jetty would shave about 20 minutes off his usually travelling time. He currently pays close to S$400 a month for waste disposal services, to use the facilities at Changi Creek and to berth his boats at Marina Country Club.

$1.25m for ideas to improve fish farming
New jetty and guidelines among other measures to boost yields
By Grace Chua, The Straits Times, 25 Jul 2014

TO HELP farmers here produce more fish, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is doling out $1.25 million to those who can work with the agency to develop better "closed containment aquaculture" systems that won't be so easily affected by pollutants and bad weather.

It is also coming up with good-aquaculture-practice guidelines for fish farms, said Minister of State for National Development Maliki Osman yesterday.

Closed containment systems are those that shield the fish from the external environment - using floating canvas bags and filtering and recirculating seawater, for example.

"Such a system in a coastal environment can, among others, help our fish farms mitigate against adverse environmental conditions," Dr Maliki said, speaking at the opening of a new Lorong Halus jetty for Singapore fish farmers whose farms are in the eastern Johor Straits.

He added that the agency would ask for proposals by the end of next month, and provide more details on its good aquaculture practices in September.

With more productive farming methods, the hope is to almost double fish yields to 15 per cent of that eaten here, for greater food security.

To this end, the AVA has also installed continuous online water quality monitoring systems at some fish farms; it calls and text-messages fish farmers in case of poor water conditions.

The moves come after thousands of fish died suddenly in January and February after being poisoned by plankton blooms brought on by high temperatures and low tides. Then, 39 coastal farms lost 160 tonnes of fish.

The new Lorong Halus jetty is another step to help local fish farmers, whose 4,200 tonnes of fish produced each year make up about 8 per cent of fish consumed here.

Sixty-three of Singapore's 117 coastal fish farms are based in the eastern Johor Strait, with most of the rest in the western end near Lim Chu Kang.

The $3.85 million jetty offers a higher mooring capacity and is safer than the alternative Changi Creek site, where farmers had to climb a ladder while weighed down with 100kg boxes. It is also dedicated for fish farm use so farmers do not have to jostle with other boats, saving them waiting time.

The jetty, which also has a proper waste disposal shelter, is free for farmers to use for three months. AVA will decide on the fees to be paid after this period and will inform farmers.

Mr Frank Tan, chief operating officer of fish farm Marine Life Aquaculture, said the new jetty cut his round-trip time from 21/2 hours to about 50 minutes.

"We will evaluate and see if it's safer and more convenient," he said, adding that the farm would "definitely consider" a permanent switch.

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