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Optimising use of sea space part of long-term planning


URA and SFA’s reply, 2 Nov 2021

We thank Mr Kuet Ee Yoon for his letter and his interest in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Long-Term Plan Review (Review development potential of Singapore’s limited sea space, Oct 27).

URA reviews its long-term plans to meet Singapore’s future needs, based on the impact and opportunities presented by future trends. This involves studying how we can better plan and optimise both our land and sea spaces to meet the needs in an uncertain future. 

Public engagement is also an integral part of the process to understand and balance the economic, social and environmental interests of the city-state and people, and provide for a good quality living environment.

As with land, there are diverse and competing needs for the use of our sea space. There are also technical considerations involved, such as sea depth, sedimentation and water clarity, and hydrology. 

Mr Kuet is right that most of the sea space within our port limits are today used by the maritime and port industry, which are important contributors to our economy. Nevertheless, we have been setting aside areas for other important uses and activities, including marine biodiversity conservation, aquaculture, industries, utilities and recreation. 

Given our limited land-based resources, URA has also been working with agencies, industry and researchers to identify opportunities to optimise the use of our sea space such as through co-locating uses, matching appropriate uses to suitable sites, and harnessing technology. One example is the co-location of solar photovoltaic (PVs) systems with fish farms along the East Johor Strait.

Mr Kuet also suggested a review of sea space for aquaculture. Aquaculture is an important contributor to our “30 by 30” target – to build our agri-food industry’s capacity and capability to produce 30 per cent of our nutritional needs locally and sustainably by 2030. The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) plans to unlock the full potential of sea-based aquaculture through more productive, sustainable and climate-resilient management methods.

Over the next few years, new sea sites for aquaculture will be identified and tendered out on leases. Careful consideration is given in the identification of suitable sites. Some areas, such as the waters at Selat Sengkir, have existing uses required for the long term. There are currently sea spaces available for aquaculture, such as the Johor Strait off Pasir Ris.

It is important that we work towards 30 by 30 in a sustainable manner. SFA has been studying various aspects of aquaculture production and engaging farmers, with the aim of growing aquaculture production sustainably. 

We will continue to work closely with farmers to improve and transform the aquaculture industry into one that is productive and sustainable. We welcome views from the public as we continue to further these efforts. Members of the public can sign up for URA’s ongoing Long-Term Plan Review discussions to share their ideas at go.gov.sg/ltprp2.

Adele Tan
Group Director (Strategic Planning)
Urban Redevelopment Authority

Cheong Lai Peng
Senior Director (Industry Development & Community Partnership)
Singapore Food Agency

Letter, 27 Oct 2021, Straits Times

Review development potential of Singapore’s limited sea space

I am very impressed by the strategic thinking and action by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in phase two of its public engagement exercise, part of a review of its long-term plans (S'poreans prioritise green spaces, affordable housing: Poll, Sept 13).

Could the relevant authorities conduct a similar review for Singapore's limited sea space too? After all, our sea space is almost the same size as our land space.

Currently, most of Singapore's sea space is used by the shipping industry, which is understandable and necessary as Singapore is the world's bunkering and container transshipment hub.

However, with technological advancements, I believe it is time to revisit those old assumptions and balance the requirements of all sea space users.

This is especially relevant to the fish farming sector in support of Singapore's "30 by 30" food security goal to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally and sustainably by 2030.

For a start, and in the spirit of thinking out of the box, perhaps the relevant authorities could review the use of Selat Sengkir, the waterway between Pulau Brani and Sentosa, in the Sentosa-Brani masterplan.

The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment could examine Selat Sengkir's potential in the ranching method of fish farming because of the waterway's water quality, its tidal movements, and the two narrow openings at both ends of the channel.

It could also be a good opportunity for various government agencies to conduct a joint study to determine the feasibility of combining the requirements of fish farming, marine renewable energy sources (tidal and floating solar), tourism, preservation of heritage sites and the protection of Singapore's natural environment.

Kuet Ee Yoon