Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page



1.1 Fresh Fish Supply and Demand

The annual fresh-fish consumption of Singapore is estimated at 65 000 tons, of which more than 75 percent is imported. Table 1 shows Singapore's fresh-fish supply from various sources for the past ten years. It can be seen that in 1974" aquaculture production of 680 tons (600 tons from freshwater carp ponds and 80 tons from prawn trapping brackishwater impoundments) represents about 1 percent of the total supply. In spite of efforts to develop capture fisheries, local fish landings have been static since 1966, while inshore fishery production has been steadily on the decline from 4 340 tons in 1965 to 2 650 tons in 1971, a drop of almost 40 percent. The slight increase in inshore production in 1972-74 was probably due to increase in illegal trawl fishing in coastal waters.

Singapore is an island state with an area of 584 km2 and a population of 2.2 million. During the past five years the annual rate of population increase averaged 1.7 percent. The per caput consumption of fresh fish is about 30 kg/year. Assuming that the rate of population increase and per caput consumption will remain at 1.7 percent and 30 kg/year respectively, the projected demand for fresh fish in 1985 would be 80 130 tons for an estimated population of 2.671 million.

1.2 Possible Means of Meeting Demand

1.2.1 Development of capture fisheries

In order to meet the projected demand for fresh fish, plans have been implemented at a time of unemployment in the mid-sixties for the development of a fishing industry in the Republic through the establishment of marine fishery research and training centres at the Changi Fisheries Complex. The Jurong Fishing Port/Central Fish Market with its associated labour-intensive fish processing industry at Jurong were also established. However, with the current "full employment" and strengthened economy in industrialized Singapore, the development of capture fisheries has not achieved its projected targets. Factors affecting its development are:

(a) depletion of offshore demersal fishery resources;

(b) lack of new fishing grounds suitable for commercial exploitation;

(c) high operating cost as a result of high fuel cost;

(d) availability and greater attraction of better paid jobs with better working conditions on shore; and

(e) other more lucrative investment opportunities in Singapore.

Unless the results of research on pelagic fisheries resources presently being conducted by national and regional agencies, are encouraging from the view point of geographically handicapped states, the expansion of capture fisheries to meet the projected demand for fresh fish in Singapore will be limited. Singapore will still have to depend heavily on fish imports which may be reduced in the future by the increasing domestic demand of fish-exporting countries.

1.2.2 Development of intensive aquaculture

The traditional Chinese method of carp culture has been practised in Singapore for many years with an estimated yield of 1.8 tons/ha/year. There is no fish fanning activity in brackish and coastal waters. The present method of prawn production in brackishwater impoundments is nothing more than trapping, holding, and harvesting, and is entirely dependent on nature and tidal recruitment. With little or no management prawn production in brackish water is poor, about 0.2 tons/ha/year.

With rapid economic growth, the demand for land for industry, public housing, reservoirs and recreational facilities and parks has resulted in a decrease in the land available for agricultural purposes. At present, about 335 ha of freshwater ponds and 375 ha of brackish-water impoundments are still being used for fish farming, but with the high cost of land and competitive demand the traditional practice is becoming increasingly uneconomical. As the expansion of capture fisheries is limited under the conditions prevailing in Singapore, greater emphasis is now being placed on the development of intensive aquaculture in both inland and coastal waters with the aims of supplementing its food fish supply and reducing the problem of heavy reliance on fish imports.

1.3 National Policies and Food Production

Despite limited land resources, Singapore has been able to attain self-sufficiency in its production of piggery products, eggs and poultry. There is also substantial local production of fresh leafy vegetables. The provision of agricultural land designated solely for the purpose of intensive animal husbandry and horticultural activities will maintain the existing status of local food production, thereby minimizing the over-dependence on external food supply.

1.4 Role of Aquaculture Development in the Implementation of National Policies

Aquaculture can play an important role in Singapore in the implementation of national policies on food production. Intensive aquaculture systems, such as floating cage-net culture of marine fish in coastal waters and Chinese carps in reservoirs, raft culture of molluscs, fish culture in enclosed bays and particularly intensive tank culture, which is less labour-intensive, can be developed not only to supplement Singapore's fresh-fish consumption, but also to utilize efficiently the limited land and water resources for maximum yield and economic returns.

The production of ornamental fish which is export-oriented, is an important form of aquaculture practice. At present, the export value of ornamental fish is more than U.S.$ 5 million, which contribute in some measure to the national economy. In ensuring the viability of this on-going industry, development measures in terms of provision of appropriate services are necessary for its future expansion and consolidation.


2.1 Objectives

The fundamental objectives of aquaculture development are increasing fish production and reducing fish import through the development of intensive and economically viable fanning systems. These systems will be extended to the private sector for large-scale development of an aquaculture industry. Research and development programmes will be so planned as to maintain a balance between mass production of low-value but fast-growing food fish for the majority of the population and high-value fish species for the luxury market and export aimed at maximum yield and economic returns per unit of productive area.

As large-scale aquaculture cannot be developed without the independent supply of young, the immediate objectives are the development of facilities and recruitment of trained personnel by the public sector to conduct research geared toward achieving self-sufficiency and independence in the supply of seedlings. Other short-term (five years) objectives include economic feasibility studies following research to pave the way for large-scale development of a viable aquaculture industry and other auxiliary industries, besides:

(a) identification of coastal waters which are available and suitable for mariculture;

(b) identification of fish species suitable for intensive farming in confined conditions;

(c) development of intensive and economically-viable aquaculture systems with special emphasis on intensive tank culture with recycled or running water and suspended cage-net culture leading to the utilization of less labour and land;

(d) fish nutrition studies for feed development;

(e) identification of fish pathogens and effective measures of their control and prevention;

(f) environmental control and management;

(g) aquaculture engineering and management;

(h) increasing existing aquaculture production of traditional fish farmers and prawn trapping operators by introducing improved management techniques.

The first phase of the ten-year aquaculture development plan will be over a period of five years while the implementation of the second phase consisting of mid-term (10 years) objectives will largely be determined by the results of studies undertaken during the first phase. On the fruitful completion of the first phase, the obvious lines of action to be taken will consist of:

(a) development of expanded extension and training programmes for aquaculture in the private sector;

(b) creation of incentives by provision of adequate land and coastal areas suitable for aquaculture at nominal rentals and introduction of legislation for protection of aquaculture investments;

(c) improvement and conversion of existing brackishwater impoundments into well managed ponds;

(d) expansion of inland and coastal waters including those of outlying islands available for aquaculture industry.

With the successful completion of the ten-year aquaculture development plan, it is envisaged that the existing small-scale, family-operated type of traditional culture and prawn trapping operations will eventually be phased-out. Once economic viability of intensive aquaculture is demonstrated, financial interests from the private sector are expected to be attracted to the aquaculture industry.

2.2 Production Targets

At present, Singapore has 710 ha of freshwater ponds and brackishwater impoundments. In addition, it has a potential of 2 400 ha of coastal waters available for aquaculture development. If the activities planned are carried out successfully within the next ten years, the targeted production would be in the region of 10 000 tons by 1985, representing about 12 percent of the projected demand for fresh fish as opposed to the current 1 percent. With the introduction of improved culture systems and management, the existing 710 ha of freshwater ponds and brackishwater impoundments are expected to yield 2 000 tons. Subject to the achievement of self-sufficiency in the supply of marine and euryhaline fish seedlings, the floating cage-net and tank culture systems are targeted to yield 1 500 tons while the remaining 6 500 tons may be derived from the development of raft culture of green mussels.

2.3 Cultivated Species and Production Systems

As aquaculture science is still in its infant stage of development in Singapore, the following production systems and fish species will be studied. These, however, will be subject to change and modification depending on the outcome of research.

2.3.1 Freshwater pond culture

Efforts will be made to increase the existing Chinese carp production by the introduction of better pond management. While some farmers will be encouraged to initiate intensive catfish culture subject to the availability of feeds in the form of trash fish, others will be allowed to continue with their traditional method of carp culture until such time when suitable cheap pelleted feeds are developed. The freshwater giant prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergi) is also recommended for polyculture with the Chinese carps while the marble goby (Oxyeleotris marmorata) will be farmed with free-breeding tilapia on a prey-predator basis. To supplement the fish farmers' income, ornamental fish may be introduced for culture in net boxes floated in small sections of ponds used for carp-prawn culture.

2.3.2 Utilization of brackishwater impoundments

The utilization of the existing 375 ha of brackishwater impoundments for intensive aquaculture will present some difficulties. As these impoundments are large, averaging 20 ha each, badly constructed and heavily silted, farming management can be a major problem. Operators will be encouraged to subdivide these into smaller and more manageable ponds for the production of mullet, milkfish, tilapia, marble goby, groupers, snappers, sea bass (Lates calcarifer) and prawns. The proposed farming systems will be the polyculture of compatible species and prey-predator culture of carnivorous species.

2.3.3 Cage-net fish culture

Of importance to aquaculture development in land-scarce Singapore is the method of fish culture in floating cage-nets attached to palisade traps in coastal waters. Species suitable for such a system of culture are the groupers and snappers. As the lack of fish fingerlings for stocking is the major constraint to its large-scale development, studies on induced breeding will be undertaken. This cage-net culture of big-head carp has been successfully undertaken and has proved to be a profitable way of reducing plankton blooms in Singapore water impoundments.

2.3.4 Floating raft culture of green mussels

The raft system of green mussel culture in coastal waters has the greatest potential for mass production of cheap protein in Singapore. It also contributes to the reduction of nutrient load in coastal waters.

2.3.5 Intensive tank culture

The system of intensive tank culture is the ultimate aim of aquaculture development in land-scarce Singapore. It could align fish farming with animal husbandry. The system of tank culture requires high inputs, high stocking density, high rate of water flow and pelleted feed of high protein content. Fish suitable for this form of culture are the mullets and carps.


3.1 Extension Service

Extension services in Singapore are directly provided by the research staff of the Fisheries Division, Primary Production Department.

Training of inland farmers in freshwater fish culture is carried out in conjunction with training in animal husbandry and horticulture. Emphasis is placed on the practical aspects. Training of this nature is not provided for operators of prawn trapping brackishwater impoundments. However, they are encouraged to increase production through supplementary feeding, stocking of fry, and prevention of natural predators from entering the pond.

3.2 Training of Core Personnel

The training of research and supporting staff is partially met by in-service training arrangements. Training opportunities to be offered by international and regional agencies will be of direct assistance in creating the necessary core of functional extension personnel.

3.3 Organization of Research

The Fisheries Division of the Primary Production Department, Ministry of National Development, has presently two aquaculture experimental stations. The Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory at Sembawang is situated inland and is involved in research on freshwater food fish and prawns, and aquarium fish culture. The Aquaculture Unit at Changi deals with research on marine and brackishwater fish and prawn production and culture.

Research personnel are provided with training in the latest aquaculture developments. Such training is usually provided through fellowships and scholarships for studies abroad.

Funds for research are provided by the Government and annual allocations depend on proposed research inputs. Since research inputs for the next ten years are difficult to assess, it is not possible to estimate the total expenditure for the period 1975-85.


4.1 Financing and Credit

Programmes for the production of fish and prawn fry are financed by the Government. Fry are distributed to farmers either free of charge or at a minimal cost. The Government does not, however, provide financing and credit facilities to farmers for aquaculture. The private sector has so far utilized their own finance for aquaculture activities and it is felt that the trend may remain the same with development of intensive aquaculture.

4.2 Phasing and Management of Production Programmes

The areas to be developed for aquaculture only include existing fresh- and brackishwater ponds and coastal areas.

Since production programmes have not been finalized, manpower requirements, procurement of inputs, and other information pertaining to the need of such programmes, cannot be estimated at this point in time.

In broad terms, the following sequence of events may be envisaged:

(a) First phase (1975-80). Continuation and intensification of research. Assessment and selection of production programmes based on research data. Design and implementation of production programmes.

(b) Second phase (1978-85). Continued implementation of production programmes and formulation and implementation of expanded production programmes.

4.3 Budget

The capital and annual recurrent costs for operation of aquaculture development plans are provided by the Government. A provision of approximately Sgp. $ 200 0001/ has been made this year for aquacultural research projects. This amount includes funds for the establishment of additional facilities and purchase of equipment and the operational cost of the projects. This amount would be increased substantially with the approval and implementation of the proposed aquaculture development project.

1/ U.S.$ 1.00 = approx. Sgp. $ 2.55

4.4 External Assistance Requirements

Assistance required for aquaculture development in Singapore includes expertise in the following order of priority:

(a) Induced breeding of marine fish.

(b) Engineering aspects especially in connexion with intensive tank culture and the associated water recycling system, and other confined cultures (sea enclosures, floating cages, pens, etc.).

(c) Fish nutrition and pelletized fish feed development.

(d) Fish diseases and related problems.

(e) Environmental control and management.


Annual Fresh Fish Consumption (tons)











Projected 1985

Local production

- inland (aquaculture)











- inshore

4 344

4 602

4 683

4 833

3 408

2 788

2 651

3 378

5 685

5 766

- offshore

6 626

13 854

13 524

12 481

15 456

14 661

11 642

11 419

12 265

12 790

Total local production

10 970

18 456

18 207

17 314

18 864

18 315

15 210

15 662

18 660

19 236

Total imports

48 288

47 619

35 758

43 936

42 622

50 052

47 558

45 295

57 797

51 057

Total supply

59 257

66 075

53 966

61 250

61 486

68 367

62 768

60 957

76 457

70 293

Total exports

2 560

3 105

3 122

2 352

1 805

5 049

3 457

3 967,

6 060

6 169

Total consumption (supply less exports)

56 697

62 970

50 844

58 898

59 681

63 318

59 311

56 990

70 397

64 124

80 130

Population (millions)







Increase in population (%)







Per caput consumption (kg/year)







Previous Page Top of Page Next Page