(Originally published on SFA Facebook)
Diving into Farming
After graduating from the Nanyang Technological University in 2015, Sky began working as a project engineer. Not long after, he took a year off to travel and go on diving trips in Southeast Asia.
During his diving trips, he discovered that the amount of marine life has been dwindling. He also realised that overfishing is a serious issue and he wants to do something about it.
“Seafood consumption is increasing on the whole due to the growing population and supply cannot keep up with demand.
So one way to deal with the problem is fish farming. That’s how I dived into this job.”
A Day in The Life
Sky’s day typically starts with a trip to Rong-Yao’s headquarter office at Boon Lay, where Sky checks on sales and orders.
After a few hours, he drives the company truck to Changi Point Ferry Terminal and takes a boat out to the farm. The waves greet him like an old friend, lapping up the side of the boat in a rhythmic motion.
“Although it’s just five minutes, I enjoy my commute to the farm. I often imagine I’m heading out to a dive site!”
On the farm, he is a ‘bao-ka-liao’, doing everything from resolving operational issues to managing staff.
His day ends before the sun sets.
Certified Farming System
Rong-Yao Fisheries was among the pilot batch of farms which that the Good Aquaculture Practice (GAP) for Fish Farming certification in 2014. This means the farm is recognised for its safe, systematic approach to fish farming.
An important part of Sky’s job is to make sure the farm adheres to the GAP guidelines, tracking data in the online management system for proper recording and traceability.
He also helps the farm in closing the supply chain loop. For example, now Rong-Yao Fisheries works with its partner hatchery to take care of its broodstock in Kranji, instead of importing them.
“By controlling the whole supply chain, we can innovate and reduce cost. We are also more flexible in terms of schedule.”
Engineering + Farming
Despite having no background in aquaculture, Sky does not feel he’s at a disadvantage at his job.
“If farms are going high-tech to increase production, engineers are the guys to hire.”
With automation, data analysis, and Internet of Things on the rise, engineers can contribute their technical know-how and project management skills.
The latter, especially, is a good skill to have in work and daily life and can be applied to any situation.
“I set a scope and create small tasks to accomplish the goals within a timeframe. Be it implementation or maintenance, knowing how to manage a project comes in handy.”
Scaling Up Fish Exports
Rong-Yao Fisheries currently rears one type of fish - golden pomfret, also called the pompano.
“In terms of cost and planning, it is more feasible to rear one variety. We do it better and do it well. Just like how Norway does salmon.”
Sky also feels that Singapore could go the same way as the Scandinavian country – focusing on rearing one or two types of fish and exporting them as a nation.
“If we do that, we can reap economies of scale in the whole farming process and overall cost will go down. Of course, it will also help with Singapore’s branding!”
Sticking It Out in The Industry
Sky plans to work at the fish farm as long as he can as he feels he can still contribute a lot more. He’s also keen to improve his knowledge and understanding of the industry.
“I attended a SFA-organised seminar recently. The professor from Norway talked about how farmed salmon became one of Norway’s most successful exports. It was an informative session.”
Qualifications are important but Sky feels that the attitude to always keep learning is more important in this day and age.
“Learning how to learn is a lifelong endeavour. I’m doing that every day at Rong-Yao.”