Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment whether the Ministry will consider pausing the introduction of sea space leases for next year to give smaller fish farms time to review their business models.
Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien: To grow our aquaculture industry, we encourage farms to adopt sustainable, high productivity farm management methods and leverage technology to optimise the use of sea space. As with land-based farms, sea-based farms have also given feedback that longer lease tenures would provide the certainty they need to invest in productive and sustainable farming technologies. This would also give them the necessary runway and enhance their access to financing needed to undertake long-term business planning and investments in farming technologies. We hence introduced sea space leases to support the industry’s needs.
All farms, small or large, play a role in the transformation of our aquaculture industry. In line with the announcement at the Ministry for Sustainability and the Environment’s Committee of Supplies Debate earlier this year, there is a transition period of ten years, to ease existing farmers onto the new lease mechanism and give them time to review their business models. During this period, farmers can choose to continue using their current sea spaces under a Temporary Occupation Licences (TOLs) arrangement with annual renewals. The TOL fees will be phased in over four years to mitigate the cost impact to farms, and in line with Government’s commitment to not increase Government fees in 2023, fees for next year will also be waived. The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) will support all farms through the transition regardless of whether they choose to remain and invest in their existing sea spaces or exit the industry.
Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment
4 July 2022