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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fish Farms and Golf Courses

I have been visiting the fish farms in Singapore for the longest time ever since I discovered the fish farms at Old Tampines Road.ever. I love going there to look at the fishes especially the koi  It was a sad day when the whole area was acquired for a new expressway. Fortunately, some of the farms eventually moved to Pasir Ris Farmway. Although the area has lost its charm as compared to the country like feel of Old Tampines Road, it was still a place where I spent quite a number of weekends just gazing at the fishes and getting replenishment for the fish tanks at home.

So it came as a shock to read in the papers and found out that the fish farms has got to go again because the area is needed for “industrial” development. The 13 affected fish farms including the popular Mainland Tropical Fish Farm occupy an area of 21.6ha of land. What I don’t understand is why the farms have to go? Does Singapore really need more industrial space? From what I heard and read, everybody is complaining about the expensive land cost here, scarcity of workers and moving out to Johore and China. So where is the demand for the industrial land coming from?

Maybe the government doesn’t see the fish business as worthy of nurturing. After all, volume in the business has been declining as the aquarium fish hobby slow down. In 2010, the trade exported S$78m worth of fish in 2011 down from S$101m in 2007. I presume companies utilizing these spaces can generate more in revenue and create more jobs so they take priority?

So if there really is a desperate need for industrial lands, is kicking out the fish farms the only solution? Do we not have any other alternative lands for new industrial development?

According to the URA, as at year 2000, Singapore has a total of 22 golf courses occupying about 1500ha of land. How big is that compared to the fish farm puny little area of 21.6ha? I don't even need a calculator to work that out! So why can't they kick out the golf course instead of the fish farms?

 Of course, some golf courses are untouchable as they are located in catchment area. But there are many golf courses that are sitting on lands which can be put to better use. Like Laguna National Golf  which is right opposite the Changi South Industrial Park and just next to the New Water Treatment plant and a huge sewage plant at Bedok South. At 126ha, it easily dwarfs the combine size of the 13 fish farms. Or how about Tanah Merah Country Club? Its 2 courses at Xilin and Changi Coast Road are also next to the Changi South Industrial Park. The length of the 2 golf courses at Tanah Merah CC alone, without taking into account the other facilities on site, amounts to 13142 metres. So I think giving up 21.6ha of land won’t be sorely missed by the club. But that of course, as we all know, will never happen - not when we see a list of the members of both clubs. More about the golf course in the next post.

So I guess it will be bye bye fish farms come 2014 unless within this year, there is a sudden spike in demand for aquarium fish and the trade volume increase drastically making it attractive for our very practical and money minded government to support.

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