Oceanus Group, a Singaporean aquaculture firm, is in talks with the island’s government to build a US$500m offshore “future food city” to produce fish, vegetables and seaweed.
The “Oceanus Aquapolis” would be a multi-storey structure that generates its own solar electricity and harvests rainwater for aquaponics.
A Singaporean investor and one of China’s major contractors are on board with the proposal.
Oceanus says the scale of the project requires the participation of Singapore, which imports almost all its food, and which would have to allocate it space in its national waters.
The company says it is “working at pace” to develop the floating food city, which it estimates could be producing within seven years. It will use the internet of things and artificial intelligence to reduce both the need for human labour and the scheme’s environmental impact.
The talks follow the signing, on 23 April, of a memorandum of understanding with Singaporean start-up Shaw Investment Holdings and China Construction Seventh Engineering Division to develop aquaculture schemes worth US$500m.
It also follows the increasing loss of fish stocks. Duane Ho, the chief finance officer of Oceanus, said wild-caught ocean fish would be depleted by 2050, and had already reduced by 90% in the South China Sea over the past 120 years.
Peter Koh, the chief executive of Oceanus, commented: “Food security is increasingly a key concern for many governments around the world. We believe this tripartite collaboration is well-positioned to capitalise on the bourgeoning aquaculture opportunities globally.”
Singapore imports 90% of its food, making it one of the most food insecure countries in the world.
The plan is a bold move for Oceanus, which was on Singaporean Stock Exchange’s “watch list” for companies in financial difficulties, and which posted a US$1.2m loss for the first quarter of 2018. Its primary business is running fish farms along the coast of China, including the world’s largest sea cucumber farm.