COVID-19 spike forces Singapore to close major seafood port

Published on
July 20, 2021
A Singapore fish market

Singapore has announced the temporary closure of its primary seafood import hub, the Jurong Fishery Port (JFP), due to a COVID-19 cluster, forcing the city-state to switch to alternative supply routes to meet local demand.

About 30 percent of Singapore’s seafood imports is made through the port.

An announcement from Singapore’s Ministry of Health on 17 July said JFP would be closed for two weeks until 31 July for deep-cleaning activities, after seven individuals who worked at the port tested positive for COVID-19.

But with the COVID-19 cluster spreading from JFP to Hong Lim Market and with suspected transmission to other markets, Singapore’s Health Ministry and its National Environment Agency are conducting a joint operation to test all fishmongers working across the island nation.

Seafood imports have been redirected to various alternatives routes, while supermarkets and other suppliers have been asked to increase their supply of seafood products during the closure of JFP. To further ensure a stable supply of seafood, operations at another port, the Senoko Fishery Port (SFP), can continue but entry rules will be tightened and strict safe management measures will be applied, according to the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

In a 19 July press release, the SFA urged consumers not to engage in panic-buying.

“While there may be temporary disruptions to the supply of chilled seafood, frozen seafood options remain available to mitigate the shortfall. Consumers need not rush to purchase seafood. Consumers can play their part by being open to switching choices within and across food groups as well as different food sources,” SFA said.

Aquaculture Centre of Excellence, the owner of the floating fish farm Eco-Ark, which raises grouper and sea bass, saw its sales double since 17 July following the closure of JFP, The Straits Times reported 18 July. Other suppliers, including The Fish Farmer and Barramundi Group, also reported a significant increase in sales since the announcement.

"Since then, my phone has been ringing nonstop,” The Fish Farmer CEO Malcolm Ong said. “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.”

Singapore currently imports food from more than 170 countries, according to SFA.

Photo courtesy of TravellingFatman/Shutterstock

Reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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