Since 2009, the International Soy in Aquaculture Program has been working to guide the development of industrial scale marine fish aquaculture in Southeast Asia, to produce higher value fish for export to countries hungry for healthy seafood products.
Southeast Asia is well positioned for the development of a marine fish export industry, with an established infrastructure for aquaculture and seafood processing.
Moving marine fish farms further offshore ensures less environmental impacts over near-shore operations, with better water quality at greater depths and stronger currents. This method would allow for the sustainable industrial scale production of higher value marine species that are in high demand by import markets. Higher quality fish require a consistent supply of quality feed; consequently, large-scale marine fish production in Southeast Asia would present a significant opportunity to increase regional markets for U.S. soy ingredients.
To help build those markets for both marine fish and soy feed ingredients, the Aquaculture Program has held educational seminars on best practices for hatcheries, offshore operations, and a robust export market. Efforts were also made to successfully convince the international Offshore Mariculture Conference to hold its annual gathering in Asia for the first time, with an event in Singapore in 2018.
“The educational seminars have provided a solid foundation of information, but it’s much more effective to take people to a thriving operation to show them,” said Lukas Manomaitis, Aquaculture Program Lead Technical Consultant.
In May 2018, Manomaitis led a group of 18 representatives from Southeast Asian governments, industry organizations, fish farms and investors to tour offshore sea bass and sea bream farms in Greece. Organized every two years, this is the third marine aquaculture tour hosted by the Aquaculture Program. Previous trips viewed sea bass and sea bream farms in Turkey and salmon farms in Norway, and offshore cage operations in Malta and Italy.
The Aquaculture Program’s efforts are beginning to see results, with three demonstration farms in development with government investment in Indonesia, and the Singaporean government and private investors expressing greater interest in offshore aquaculture.
“If operators in Southeast Asia can produce the fish, they can move quickly to become major exporters,” said Manomaitis.