Interview: Dr. Guillaume Drillet, President, World Aquaculture Society Asia Pacific Chapter
A day before the Offshore Mariculture Conference kicks off in Singapore, World Fishing & Aquaculture sat down with Dr. Guillaume Drillet, Immediate Past- President of the World Aquaculture Society's Asia Pacific Chapter, to discuss Singapore's aquaculture industry and hear his expectations for this week's conference.
Dr. Drillet is based in Singapore and has 15 years' experience of marine sciences in the public and private sectors, and a particular interest in the ecology and risk from invasive species.
Singapore's aquaculture industry may be very small, producing about 5% of national consumption, but Dr. Drillet feels that the government is making serious efforts to develop it further. In terms of offshore aquaculture, he explained that producing protein in water will protect terrestrial habitats and their biodiversity so there will be more such farming in future. Referring to the South East Asia region, he said that offshore aquaculture can develop and will become something different to the examples seen so far in countries such as Chile, Norway or New Zealand. He also touched upon the serious threat of piracy, which could be a showstopper in the region, and therefore maritime security will need to be part of the successful equation.
"I have no doubt that offshore aquaculture is part of the future here," he said. "The water quality is relatively good in many potential production areas. Luckily this region of the world already has a very strong maritime industry from which technical solutions can be created where needed. In terms of offshore farming, I believe South East Asia will really bloom in the coming years."
Aquaculture production in Singapore, with better control over issues such as food safety or the use of antibiotics, is a good thing for Singaporeans. Aquaculture will create employment and wealth and offers a range of sustainability-related objectives that could be looked at during its development. Dr. Drillet went on to say that offshore farming needs input from a host of industries in planning, finance, experience and knowledge, and in that sense he was most excited about the varied conference programme on offer. He also expressed his hope of seeing delegates from all around the region, not only from Singapore.
"Singapore has all the tools to support the aquaculture industry locally and regionally, in terms of knowledge, technological development, insurance or finance," said Dr. Drillet. "Using these tools, it really can become a hub for Asian aquaculture. I am happy that the Offshore Mariculture Conference is to be held here. It's very timely as the industry is growing and we will partly have to grow offshore for multiple reasons. My hope is that we will have a lot of people not only from Singapore but also from the rest of the region. I hope to see Singaporean investors, farmers and others who are ready to support the emergence of a strong offshore industry for Singapore. Everything is open at this stage. Having the conference here, in this region, is a good start in working to get things moving."
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