(Originally published on AVA Facebook)
Diving into Aquaculture
Since he was a kid, Ian has always loved nature and enjoyed keeping ornamental fish. After completing his Bachelor degree in Business and Environment Science (Marine Studies) at James Cook University in 2014, he was introduced to one of the founders of BA by chance. He was offered a two-week stint at the fish farm to gain some work experience, which turned into a three-month internship.
Ian was eventually offered the role of Assistant Vaccination Manager, and was responsible for fish vaccination at the farm’s nursery.
“I fell in love with aquaculture from day one, and as they say, the rest is history.”
Following his experience at BA, Ian went on to pursue his Masters degree in Aquaculture and Marine and Resource Management at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. To gain more experience, he also completed a four-month internship at Open Blue Sea Farms in Panama, one of the largest open ocean farms in the world.
Armed with a deeper knowledge and fuelled by a deepened interest in aquaculture, he returned to BA last year as a management trainee, and now considers himself lucky to be able to turn his long-time passion into a full-time career.
Not Your Average 9 to 5 Job
“Building up the local farming industry is key to contributing to Singapore’s food security. At the same time, farming is a fun and exciting job and there is never a dull day!”
At BA, Ian manages the barramundi growth model and feed guide to ensure fish grow healthily and production is efficient. At the start of each week, he also looks out for any biomass or health changes in the fish, and monitors the fish mortality and the feed conversion ratios to ensure good fish performance.
“There is no typical day at work on the farm, and my usual tasks range from feeding and harvesting fish, to evaluating data, maintenance work, and conducting farm tours.”
Occasionally, he helps out at the farmers’ markets held throughout the year and shares more about aquaculture and farming practices with others.
Satisfaction as a Fish Farmer
For the young farmer, satisfaction comes in the form of bringing fresh barramundi to restaurants in Singapore and seeing happy customers enjoy the farm’s fish.
“There is great satisfaction in being a part of creating a sustainable food source for Singapore, the region and beyond. Being out at sea every day is also an adventure in itself.
Life on the Fish Farm
At the farm, everyone cares and looks out for one another like they’re part of a family.
“I get to eat the best biryani cooked by our farm workers, and also learn about the cultures they come from (India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar)!”
Ian also touched on some challenges faced along the way, such as unpredictable, bad weather conditions.
With over four years of aquaculture experience under his belt, Ian has learnt to take these challenges in his stride.
“I think being adaptable to the ever-changing demands of the job and seeing challenging situations as opportunities for growth is key to overcoming any tough situation.”
Diving into the Future
For Ian, the future of our local aquaculture industry is a promising one with many opportunities.
“It will be exciting times ahead for modern farmers with the increasing incorporation of technology, stringent farming practices, and processes, which will allow for greater efficiency and quality.”
For instance, BA is looking to make use of a semi-automated vaccination machine and a fully automated feeding system, which will improve labour productivity.
His advice to budding young talents keen to join the farming industry?
“Persevere through the tough times and challenges, and the fruits of your labour will be rewarding. As a wise man once said to me, don’t be afraid to get your feet wet and hands dirty – it’s the best part and way to learn!”