Alternative seafood supply lanes activated: Grace Fu

Senoko Fishery Port will ramp up operations; major wholesalers asked to increase purchases

Singapore has swiftly switched to alternative supply routes following the Covid-19 cluster at Jurong Fishery Port, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu yesterday.

Speaking at the FairPrice Fresh Food Distribution Centre in Tagore Lane, she said Senoko Fishery Port has been activated, and major wholesalers have also been asked to increase their purchases so that they can continue to supply seafood.

"Our major supermarkets have also increased stocks so that they can substitute for the wet markets. We've some stocks of frozen and chilled seafood, so we don't expect disruption or our shops to run out of seafood," she added.

The assurance comes after Jurong Fishery Port was closed to help break the chain of Covid-19 transmission and enable deep cleaning. The closure will last for two weeks until July 31.

It handles about 30 per cent of the country's seafood imports, including those that arrive by land and air, said the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

The Straits Times has contacted SFA on how it will be supporting the Senoko port, which has 35 merchants and between 700 and 1,000 customers daily, to ramp up operations.

The Jurong facility boasts more than 100 merchants and attracts up to 3,000 customers daily.

Ms Fu also said a number of fishmongers in wet markets have seen disruptions to their operations as they have been asked to go for testing as a precautionary measure.

The Ministry of Health said on Saturday that fishmongers from all markets will be tested for Covid-19.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a spokesman for FairPrice said it immediately contacted suppliers to explore alternatives and boost existing deliveries, following the news on Saturday.

"Additional resources were quickly put in place to receive the fresh seafood, as well as manage the increase in demand over the next two weeks," he added.

The fish sold in FairPrice supermarkets are sourced locally and imported from places such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Business has been brisk for local fish farms.

Mr Leow Ban Tat, chief executive of Aquaculture Centre of Excellence, which owns floating fish farm Eco-Ark, said sales on its website have doubled since Saturday.

Choices such as grouper and sea bass were snapped up.

Mr Malcolm Ong, chief executive of The Fish Farmer, said demand has doubled since Jurong Fishery Port was announced as a Covid-19 cluster last Friday.

He said: "Since then, my phone has been ringing non-stop. Usually, we harvest the fish when they have grown for 12 months. But during this period, we are harvesting earlier at 11 months so we can continue to supply fresh, safe and quality local fish at affordable prices.

"We usually plan the harvest according to forecast, but now we are increasing our harvest."