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Four fish farms first to be certified under new AVA scheme

SINGAPORE — Every day, the workers at Rong-Yao Fisheries’ fish farm off Pulau Ubin meticulously track the amount and type of feed dished out to each species of fish reared.

SINGAPORE — Every day, the workers at Rong-Yao Fisheries’ fish farm off Pulau Ubin meticulously track the amount and type of feed dished out to each species of fish reared.

They track the mortality rates, amount of fish harvested and the batches they belong to.

Twice a day, they take readings of water temperature, pH (a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution), and dissolved oxygen levels off the farm’s water-quality monitoring system.

And at the end of each day, they send the information back to the company’s headquarters.

The farm has been keeping data since it began operations four years ago as it makes business sense, helping to track how much it costs to rear and harvest each batch of fish, said Rong-Yao’s business development manager Alawn Koh.

But the data now serves another purpose: To assure retailers such as NTUC FairPrice and Sheng Siong, as well as consumers, of the quality and safety of the fish.

Rong-Yao is among the pilot batch of four farms under a new Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) certification scheme, called Good Aquaculture Practice for Fish Farming. Announced last week, the scheme aims to raise the profile of local fish farms and set the benchmark for the production of quality fish, the AVA said.

The scheme’s guidelines cover farm structure and maintenance, management, feeding and harvesting practices. They also cover fish health management and safety at work.

Certification costs S$600 for the first time, and yearly renewals cost S$300. An AVA spokesperson said it consulted some farmers and felt the rates to be reasonable.

Certified farms have in place a more systematic approach to fish farming, with farm maintenance schedules, feeding protocols and net maintenance systematically followed and documented.

These protocols will ensure the traceability of the farmed fish from source to retail, and translate into more efficient production, the spokesperson said. The other certified farms belong to Barramundi Asia and Marine Life Aquaculture, and AVA is working with a second batch of farms towards certification.

Rong-Yao produced 100 tonnes of fish last year from one hectare, and is expanding by half a hectare. It rears pompano, red snapper and sea bass, and Mr Koh said expansion would be fuelled by increased demand from Singaporeans for local farmed fish.

“A lot has to do with the confidence we give to retailers. Last time, the perception was that Singapore farmers are not very consistent. So for the past one to two years, we’ve shown to retailers we’re able to perform and supply them consistently,” he said.

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