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Modernisation of Small-scale Aquaculture in Kukup, Johor, Malaysia

Helping to sustain livelihood of marine fin fish farmer community, increase responsibly-produced seafood, and improve the marine ecosystem.

Photo of Amierah Amer
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Lead Applicant Organization Name


Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Large NGO (over 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Kukup marine fin fish farmers Iskandar Region Development Authority (IRDA) - Govt Department of Fisheries Johor (DOF Johor) - Govt Marine Fin Fish Association Malaysia (MFFAM) - Farmer Co-op UCSI University - Research Institution

Website of Legally Registered Entity

WWF-Malaysia: MFFAM: IRDA: UCSI University:

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Petaling Jaya

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Kukup, Johor located at the South of Peninsular Malaysia, which covers a total area of 4.29 km^2

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

We are a part of the Sustainable Fisheries and Seafood team from WWF-Malaysia and are  working towards developing a food systems programme, with Sustainable Aquaculture as a huge part of our work. 

We chose Kukup as our first small-scale aquaculture site as we identified the farmers’ difficulty in sustaining their livelihood due to unsustainable traditional farming methods as well as lack of good aquaculture guidelines and financial access in their operations. The close proximity of their farms to the shore and Kukup Island Johor National Park, a RAMSAR site nearby, is also adversely affecting the area’s environmental conditions. Furthermore, the farmers in Kukup make up a majority of the Marine Fish Farmers Association of Malaysia (MFFAM), an association co-founded by WWF-Malaysia and 12 local aquaculture industry players with vast experience and expertise in holistic farming technology. 

Additionally, the local governing authorities are also keen to support our engagement  to improve the livelihoods of the farmers in the area. Should our proposed vision for Kukup farmers be proven successful, we aspire to expand this model to other areas of traditional small-scale aquaculture industries in the hopes of moving Malaysia towards a more sustainable industry.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Kukup town is a small fishing village sheltered by Kukup Island in the southwestern corner of the Johor state, Malaysia. Kukup consists of three settlements: Kukup Laut, Kampung Kukup Air Masin and Kampung Melayu. The first two villages overlook the sea and are mainly populated by Chinese Hokkien, whereas Kampung Melayu is a Malay village located further inland. The settlements are home to a population of 1400 people (approximately 70% Chinese and 30% Malay). The houses near the Kukup shore are built on stilts above the muddy mangrove shoreline and has been in existence for more than 100 years. 

The majority of the Kukup community are engaged in fish farming and tourism. During the 1970’s, villagers in Kukup started fish farming using floating cages to meet the rising demand for fresh seafood in Johor and Singapore. Over the years, the number of cages have steadily grown to about 8,000 cages, distributed across 81 farms in the Kukup Strait. The number of cages have remained consistent over the last few years and many farm operators have diversified their operations to involve tourism and accommodation in view of the high volume of tourists in recent years, especially from Singapore. 

As a town that prides itself as a fishing village, savoring fresh seafood is a must-do activity for tourists when visiting Kukup. There are many restaurants around Kukup serving a full variety of seafood dishes, including their own farmed fish as Kukup’s specialty, at reasonable prices. Some shops also sell local dried fish products as snacks and can be taken home as souvenirs. 

The farms in Kukup consist between tens to hundreds of traditional wooden cages which grow a variety of fishes such as groupers, snappers, trevallies, pompanos and also the Asian sea bass, with an annual production of about 1,825MT, thus highlighting Kukup as one of the most significant small-scale operated marine finfish aquaculture sector in Malaysia. A large portion of these fishes are sold fresh, chilled, or live to the Singapore market which is approximately an hour by boat. As such, aquaculture and tourism play significant roles in the livelihoods of the Kukup people, and are the main job-creating industries there. 

Another unique feature of Kukup town is that its area is located close to a RAMSAR site, the Kukup Island Johor National Park, which is one of the largest mangrove islands in the world and home to species such as the flying fox, smooth-coated otter, bearded pig and long-tailed macaque.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Kukup town relies mainly on aquaculture for trade and tourism. The Kukup aquaculture sector operate tens to hundreds of traditional wooden cages per farm. Majority of the operators have poor aquaculture management practices which include lack of data recording, poor monitoring and relying heavily on trash fish (low value fish) for feeding. These poor practices coupled with land-based pollution have caused environmental degradation of the area, poor water quality of the sea around Kukup, and low fish survival rate with less than 30% of fish fingerlings surviving to a marketable size. Thus, profitability is adversely affected even though prices for the fish remain high. In October 2019, it was reported that Kukup’s fish farming industry suffered mass mortality and lost about RM5 million, suspected to be due to  heavy rainfall and pollution. 

The main issues faced by Kukup farmers at their current aquaculture site are:

a) Low survival rate of fish. 

b) Severe sedimentation due to the close proximity of cages to shore as well exposure to direct sewage discharge from the coastal housing due to absence of proper sewerage system.

c) Overcrowding of cages that causes poor water circulation and poor water quality, leading to the risk of becoming a disease hot spot. 

d) Poor aquaculture practices that lead to heavy eutrophication and poor utilisation of natural resources. 

e) Lack of financial access to modernise operations.  

The situation requires urgent improvement considering the critical environmental degradation, poor aquaculture practices and emerging climate change impacts. Climate change in recent years have caused either unusually frequent heavy rain that leads to rapid fluctuation of sea water salinity, or increase in water surface temperature that causes mass mortalities of farmed fishes, thus severely affecting the seafood business.

Fish farmers have revealed that pollution and climate change in recent decades has negatively impacted their main source of income. Certain species like the Indian threadfin fish is more sensitive than other species and exhibits intolerance towards sudden temperature fluctuation. They also mentioned that profit is very minimal due to poor fish survival rates. Acknowledging that they are the last of the younger generation remaining in Kukup’s fish farming industry, the young farmers are more willing to change for a better future but modernising current practices require high investments which is not economically viable for them.

The farmers predicted that without change, Kukup farms will continue to deteriorate leading to the industry’s collapse before 2050. This will adversely impact their livelihoods and the rest of the Kukup community who rely on the industry not only for seafood trade, but also for the seafood-based tourism that Kukup is popular for.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

We envision that in order to sustain the livelihoods of the fish farmers relying on seafood trade and tourism and Kukup’s surrounding marine environment  by 2050, we need to improve the Kukup fish farming industry by modernising their operations. 

First, our strategy is to move farms offshore with high density polyethylene (HDPE) cage implementation. Moving farms offshore ensures better water quality and better water flow rate and depth which lead to the improvement of fish survival rates, compared to the current site which suffers from severe sedimentation. It can also mitigate the effects of climate change as the new area is less prone to salinity fluctuation while the deeper water allows aquaculture fish to escape high water surface temperature. The relocation will ensure that aquaculture practices do not jeopardise the current surrounding environment nearby the Kukup village. 

The conversion from existing wooden cages to modern floating fish cages made from HDPE material also provide these advantages: 

1) Better water circulation with adequate spaces between aquaculture cages due to proper design of the modern HDPE cages.

2) Able to withstand stronger waves and wind when moved offshore 

3) Long-lasting and require less maintenance compared to traditional wooden cages 

Second, a cluster farming system that proposes collective planning and decision-making, while simultaneously implementing good aquaculture practice by a group of farmers through a participatory approach in order to accomplish common goals, e.g. reducing operation risks, maximising return of investments, and achieving an economy of scale. By having the farmers form a cluster system where they can consolidate management through a set of aquaculture guidelines, they can create a stronger collective, while still having the independence to own their respective businesses. 

The guidelines will also include: 

1) A sustainability element through regulated feeding practices using pelleted feed to reduce eutrophication caused by nutrient build up and wastage, resulting in less pressure on the wild-fisheries as feed and better water quality around the cages 

2) A set of manuals and capacity building to train the farmers with the ability to manage their new farms in an environmentally sustainable manner. 

The young farmers, while open to the above approaches, conveyed their need for reassurance, with an effective demonstration of the new method’s feasibility before fully committing. Hence, a pilot project is proposed whereby 6 round HDPE cages to be  located offshore from Kukup, which will be cooperatively managed by two young farmers, Mr. Lim Hong Peng and Mr. Tea Teck Chen. By conducting this pilot farm, we are able to collaborate with Mr. Lim and Mr. Tea to study the farm assembly, test operations and management, and monitor solution outcomes. The results can be used to convince more farmers to adopt this proposed modernisation method.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Should our Vision be successful, we expect the following results in 2050:

All Kukup fish farms have relocated offshore where the farmers operate within farming cluster groups that implement good aquaculture practices. This results in higher fish survival rates which increases fish production, thus trade and tourism in Kukup are booming. The economic success generates better profit for Kukup fish farmers, hence the industry and their livelihoods are efficiently sustained. 

The thriving farmed fish production has opened doors to other industries such as seafood processing to manufacture various seafood into new value-added items as part of Kukup’s trade and tourism specialty. With additional seafood items to offer on top of current fresh and dried seafood products, Kukup becomes a seafood trading hub that creates more income opportunities for the whole community. 

The relocation of all fish farms offshore has led to the environmental recovery of the former farming site, so the Kukup community who lives nearby and incoming tourists are exposed to a much cleaner and healthier environment. The adjacent RAMSAR site, the Kukup Island Johor National Park, is seeing improved mangrove habitats and an increase of marine wildlife such as dolphins. The park is also receiving more tourists due to easier access and higher chances of spotting flourishing wildlife such as eagles and otters.

The boom of Kukup aquaculture industry has developed the town as a center of excellence for Malaysian aquaculture through recognition and assistance from local authorities. Thus, Kukup is established as an integrated aquaculture center that merges Kukup’s successful aquaculture model with related facilities such as fish hatchery, training center promoting sustainable aquaculture, and fish disease research lab. 

Kukup’s success is seen as replicable for other aquaculture sites in Malaysia motivating the creation of government policies to ensure sustainable aquaculture practices are adopted.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

WWF-Malaysia team began this journey in Kukup by concluding that the biggest problem in the Kukup aquaculture industry (as with other aquaculture sites in Malaysia) is the usage of trash fish as an unsustainable farming practice, which is impacting the whole aquaculture site and condition of Kukup town. However, they corrected our assumption by providing insight that the actual biggest problem is instead due to low fish survival rates leading to low fish production, thus impacting their livelihoods. Multiple engagements later ensued between the Kukup farmers, our aquaculture industry and research partners, as well as the local authorities to help develop and validate improvement methods, which lead to the creation of our Vision. 

The Vision we developed is modernising the farming methods of the fish farmers in a sustainable manner that benefits the fish that they produce, their livelihoods, and the surrounding marine environment, which in turn will help flourish the food system in Kukup. This is done by proposing to move the farms offshore using modern high density polyethylene (HDPE) cages where the farmers operate in a cluster farming system that includes good aquaculture practices. 

Environment and Economics: 

The Kukup community mainly depends on marine fin-fish small-scale aquaculture as their main source of livelihood, utilising this for trade and tourism operations. Currently, the fish farmers are facing difficulty to sustain their livelihoods because they are experiencing low survival rates for their fish production, where only 30% of all fish fingerlings in aquaculture cages could grow into market size for consumption. This is due to unsustainable traditional practices as well as lack of good aquaculture guidelines and financial access to improve their operations. By moving offshore using durable HDPE cages, we project that the fish survival rate will improve up to 50% based on our observation of one farm that has moved slightly offshore from Kukup. Hence, moving these farms will lead to the environmental recovery of the current site, increasing biodiversity and resilience of the coastline nearby to Kukup village. 

Additionally, with the implementation of good aquaculture practices, we believe that the survival rate could improve up to 70% as proven by the aquaculture operator partners whom WWF-Malaysia currently works with under our Aquaculture Improvement Project (AIP). Good aquaculture practice guidelines also ensure the aquaculture operations are conducted without compromising the health of the marine environment. By implementing these good aquaculture practices, Kukup farmers would be using natural resources efficiently through the requirement of strict feeding regime incorporating high efficiency fish feed (that puts less pressure on wild fisheries previously used as feed). They would also be accurately monitoring both environmental quality as well as operations and production that ensures the wellbeing of the natural surroundings, which means better water quality around the farm area for the farmed fish while causing minimal impact on wildlife habitats. The continuous protection of the environment of the aquaculture area contributes to better fish production, thus improving the incomes of the Kukup farmers.

With the success of Kukup’s aquaculture industry through the increase in fish survival rate and production volume by 2050, we envision this will also contribute to the economic development of the whole community in Kukup by opening new opportunities for business and entrepreneurship, such as seafood processing activities, thus potentially expanding Kukup into a seafood trading hub. Furthermore, it is also possible for Kukup to consider turning their village into  an eco agro-tourism destination where tourists can experience both responsible fish farming as an educational tour and savouring responsible fish as a ‘farm to plate’ concept, thereby both increasing the number of jobs while ensuring that Kukup’s natural environment is protected. 

Technology and Culture: 

The project encourage utilisation of modern aquaculture approaches which includes modern HDPE cages. These cages are already proven to be effective and is widely used in large-scale aquaculture in the EU, China and other countries. Modern HDPE cages are more durable, can withstand harsh weather conditions, long lasting and environmentally friendly. However, utilising modern technology alone is not enough thus small-scale aquaculture farms need to adopt cluster farming which has been proven to be very effective in improving production and better farmer relations. (Please find attached some articles and studies conducted to support the above proven case studies). Hence, our Vision encompasses Kukup farmers implementing both of these two methods for the sustainability of their aquaculture industry and their livelihoods. In the future, we believe technology advancement will not only stop here but will continue to expand using other methods such as IOT (Internet of Things), utilising green energy source or venturing into sustainable aquaculture feed.

As our team were proposing this project to the entire Kukup fish farmer community, we do note that there are some resistance from the older generation who still hold on to the traditional methods of farming. This reflects the cultural clash of continuing traditional practices versus embracing modernity for the betterment of the future. As the younger farmers were more open to develop new changes in order to improve their livelihoods, our team proceeded to work with them firsthand by proposing to develop a pilot project with them, to reassure them of our Vision’s feasibility before deciding to fully commit. We hope that when this first pilot project shows a positive result, both young and old farmers are convinced or committed to shift towards modern yet profitable and environmentally-sustainable methods of fish farming. 


Interestingly, the Kukup village mainly utilises their farmed fish for business rather than their own consumption as the fish being farmed are high-valued species that has a price premium, which is more suitable for trade and eatery businesses. Hence, we aspire that through implementing our Vision, Kukup town would be the catalyst in the southern peninsular of Malaysia in promoting a sustainable diet specifically on consuming an animal protein source that benefits both humans and the environment, that is, Kukup’s own responsibly-farmed fish. Hence, Kukup will be able to serve their responsibly-farmed fish to their business clients and incoming tourists that assures both quality and safety aspects of the fish being farmed within a healthy marine environment through good aquaculture practices. The community themselves will be able to proudly promote their fish which is produced responsibly by their own farmers, thus being able to sustain their iconic fresh produce as Kukup’s tourist attraction for many years to come as the ‘first fishing village to serve responsible and sustainable fish’ and promoting to tourists that Kukup is ‘the village to be where you can experience a sustainable diet of eating responsible fish’. Domestic and Singapore markets that the farmers trade in for their fish, will also have access to these responsibly-farmed fish, thus increasing responsible seafood consumption within these markets that minimises environmental impacts from fish farming. 


We have been very fortunate to have received full support from the local authorities, the Iskandar Region Development Authority (IRDA) and the Department of Fisheries Johor (DOF Johor) who are willing to be our project partners in developing this Vision. Both authoritative entities are instrumental in this project, where they provide assistance in liaising with other related government agencies, easing standards of procedures, and overall monitoring. By 2050, we hope our Vision has become the norm for all aquaculture operations in Malaysia, with the government actively having policies in place to facilitate in implementing sustainable aquaculture businesses that includes requirements for best management practices and environmental impact studies. Also considering the number of stakeholders and partnerships this Vision has initiated, we aim for it to be replicated in other aquaculture sites so that policies will be created that encourages and smoothens the process of multi-stakeholder engagements. Finally, the ultimate target of this Vision is to address the gaps that exist within the Kukup region to achieve the goal of a circular economy, and if successful, will lead to policies development that take into account proper marine spatial planning and sustainable utilisation of natural resources for aquaculture.

A community-driven Vision

We hope that by implementing a fully modernised and sustainable aquaculture production, we would be able to trigger a positive change in Kukup’s food system that provides both environmental and economic benefits for the fish farmers and their whole village community. Most importantly, the Kukup farmers are the vital source of inspiration for our Vision. We are hopeful that through their openness to embrace new changes in their aquaculture industry, alongside passionate stakeholders willing to assist them in these changes, the food system in Kukup will prosper in 2050. 

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email

Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.

We decided to broaden the scope of our project beyond the main stakeholders to include surrounding communities living within a 5KM radius of the current project site of Kukup. We met the District Officer in Pontian who suggested the same. Unfortunately, the Movement Control Order (MCO) implemented by the Malaysian government due to Covid-19 outbreak has seriously hindered our ability to meet the stakeholders face to face and most offices were forced to shut down. Additionally, the Kukup area just went through a by-election and was still in the midst of authority changes prior to the MCO. Hence, we gathered information remotely where possible through phone calls, WhatsApp messaging, short emails, desktop research, and re-reading our prior interviews with key stakeholders. We were able to pick up both new information and subtle details unnoticeable before that helped shape our Vision during the Refinement Phase. 

Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).

Our key stakeholders have contributed more than 10 hours offline, online and face to face meeting during the Open Submission phase. Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Malaysian government’s Movement Control Order (March 18 - June 9), communication with them was restricted to only minimum online and mobile phone contacts, where feedback needed for the Refinement Phase was gathered through phone calls, WhatsApp messages, and short emails. While they contributed less than 10 hours to develop the latest Vision during the Refinement Phase, it was still meaningful partnerships and the inputs are valued. 

Our stakeholders engaged and contacted were:

1) Members of Kukup Fish Farmer Association (main target stakeholder)

2) Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA, government agency)

3) Marine Fish Farmer Association of Malaysia  (MFFAM, fish farmer association)

4) UCSI University (research institute)

5) Pontian District Officer (local government)

Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.

Local Government

Pontian District Officer Mr. Haji Zulkifly was engaged in Feb 2020 to socialize the initial proposal. He was supportive of the initiative to improve the fish farming activities in Kukup, but he wished that the proposal would be broadened and more inclusive of other communities. Mr. Zulkifly suggested WWF-Malaysia to work with the Department of Survey and Mapping Malaysia alongside the Land Office of Pontian to determine an alternative project site as the current proposed site has been gazetted for another development plan. However, we were unable to meet them as well as other communities because of the MCO during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Industry Players and Local Development Authority

Meeting notes from our meeting with the District Officer were presented to the proposal development active members, which consisted of WWF-Malaysia, MFFAM, IRDA and UCSI through the Kukup project WhatsApp group chat. All agreed that the alternative project site or alternative farming methods shall be determined together with relevant government departments post-MCO.

Younger generation of fish farmers in Kukup 

Mr. Lim Hong Peng (age 33) is the representative of the younger fish farmers in Kukup and our main contact person. Engagement was made through phone calls to help gain additional new insights and verify previous information collated by the team. 

Elected Representative 

WWF-Malaysia is part of the secretariat to the All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia (APPGM) consisting of members of parliament and representatives from civil societies, focusing on issues and concerns related to the Sustainable Development Goals. Tanjung Piai was identified as one of the focus sites, and Kukup is located within this parliamentary constituency. APPGM had prior engagement with communities in the area, and the concerns raised were beneficial for the team in looking at the broader picture of Kukup communities. Other socioeconomic aspects were compiled based on existing literature. 

What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.

Survival rate of fish

Kukup’s current farms have only 30% of their fish survive to maturity, which we compared to our aquaculture industry partners who managed to achieve 70% survival rate with modern technology and Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP). The shallow waters, along with pollution coming from the farms and the nearby village, have led to economic loss for the farmers and serious environmental degradation to the current farming site. Overcrowding of fish farms within the narrow Kukup Strait that separates Kukup and the opposite Ramsar site is also obstructing water flow and might be affecting the ecosystem surrounding the Park. Discussions with aquaculture industry experts suggested that we work on a co-created project with the community to move their farms further offshore where deeper and cleaner water coupled with BAP will ensure their operations will be more sustainable in the future. (Ref 1, 2, 3)

Climate change

There have been numerous instances where climate change has led to the increasing mortality of Kukup farms’ fish (Ref 4, 5). More freshwater influxes due to irregular heavy storms and rain coupled with poor irrigation were reported in recent decades. Moving the fish farms offshore with better water quality will help reduce fish mortality significantly and improve the livelihood of Kukup fish farmers.  

Covid-19 pandemic

The pandemic has greatly impacted the seafood industry in Malaysia, such as supply chain disruption, increased cost of raw material and export market crash. Prices of high-valued species (e.g. grouper) crashed to unprecedented values due to sudden loss of international demand. Immediate industry shifts include building domestic markets and increasing e-commerce in the seafood industry. (Ref  6, 7, 8)

Eco agro-tourism

Kukup is a known tourist destination where the average annual income generated by Kukup Island Ramsar site through tourism is RM50million and the environmental contribution of the area has been valued at USD320million. However, lack of maintenance and proper tourism guidelines have negatively impacted this (Ref 9, 10, 11, 12). Our Vision will enable the development of Kukup’s eco agro-tourism through improved environmental conditions around Kukup Island and well-maintained environment of the offshore farms.

Conscious consumption

Covid-19 pandemic has caused more concern about health and food security, and an increase in conscious consumption amongst consumers around food (Ref 13). There is an opportunity to tap on reducing individual footprints holistically while keeping people healthy, which makes up a sustainable diet. This effort of sustainable diets that ensures food safety and security with minimal impact to the planet can be initiated in a stepwise approach in Kukup, by first introducing responsibly-farmed fish consumption that is traceable and produced within best practices with minimal environmental impact.

*Ref/Reference numbers are web links listed in an attached document

Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).

Today in 2050, Mr. Lim’s son (aged 36) has taken over the offshore farm operation. The tradition of fish farming in Mr. Lim’s family which started more than 30 years ago is now growing strong in the bloodline. His success of pilot offshore fish farming in 2023 was the turning point of the whole aquaculture industry in Kukup. 

Mr. Lim and the Department of Fisheries also produced BAP guidelines and cluster farming system with proper cage distancing to avoid the same problems in the Strait of Kukup. BAP activities include proper recording, efficient resources utilization and proper waste management. Species farmed using HDPE were reduced to several species that were fast growing, resilient to climate change, and able to be cultivated intensively in order to meet the demand of Malaysia and Singapore consumers. The journey wasn’t easy but definitely worth it. His farm is producing 300% more fish compared to his traditional method. In 2030, Mr. Lim’s cluster managed to get the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s cluster farming certification with the assistance of WWF-Malaysia. 

The Internet of Things was also adopted not long after the HDPE farm clusters were in place. Every farm is using sensors, drones and artificial intelligence to monitor underwater fish activities, water quality, and man-made pollution, as well as utilizing natural disaster early alarm systems, improved traceability, and analyzing market trends. Mr. Lim can now monitor his farm remotely and spend more quality time with his family and business onshore. 

With increased production, Mr. Lim and other farmers, through the aquaculture farmers cooperative, have also invested in a seafood processing factory to diversify their fish products in order to meet various market demands. The processing plant has improved the livelihood of marginalized communities by hiring locals that are unemployed or with poor educational background, regardless of gender, to work in this industry. 

Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?

By 2050, human settlement, aquaculture, and agriculture that were identified as the main polluters in the Strait of Kukup will adopt proper management techniques to minimize their impact on the environment as well climate change impacts.

Sustainable and Resilient Aquaculture Structure

Fish farming will shift offshore to prevent pollution brought by inland floods during the rainy season. Based on the experience and expertise of our aquaculture industry partners, the new cages used are also expected to be more resilient in bad weather and rough sea conditions offshore. Built from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), the cage is meant to last 20-30 years of usage and needs less maintenance compared to traditional wooden cages. The cage will be recycled when no longer fit for aquaculture. 

Adapting and Mitigating Climate Change Impacts

The current aquaculture industry in Kukup are exposed to these climate impact risks, which include: 

a) Ocean currents 

b) Heavy Rainfall 

c) River flows 

d) Thermal structure 

e) Storm severity 

f) Storm frequency 

g) Acidification

The implementation of the HDPE cage system will help Kukup’s aquaculture industry to adapt to ocean currents, as the structure can withstand high waves and strong currents. The relocation of cages offshore also mitigates the problem of freshwater intrusion or salinity fluctuation due to heavy rainfall, river flows and storms. As the farmers become more adaptive to the new modernised farming operations, the farmers will later be encouraged to culture or farm more local aquaculture species that are climate resilient.    

Improving Aquaculture Management Towards Becoming More Responsible 

Fully understanding that their previous failure in the Strait of Kukup was partly contributed by poor cage arrangement, all farmers from different farming clusters within the new Kukup farming site would mutually agree to practice minimum distancing between each cage, farm and cluster. A minimum depth between cage bottom and sea bottom is maintained to avoid the accumulation of waste from fish farm to ocean floor. Proper distancing in between each HDPE farm in the cluster farming system is crucial to ensure good water circulation for each cage and also reduce the chances of cross pollution and disease transmission.

Enhancing traceability and logistics

Enhanced traceability in the supply chain will ensure that each player adheres to an agreed code of conduct, including BAP guidelines that minimizes the negative impact on the environment and society. Improved logistics will also reduce transit time from farm to fork, further reducing unwanted food waste due to delays in the supply chain.

Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?

Upon further research and from past interviews with the communities in the Kukup area, diet is not a dire problem for them. The community has access to basic food groups and are not in danger of malnutrition. Therefore, the diets of the local people are not a main concern for this project. However, we believe that the success of our project will be able to move further into some general improvement of diets as per following:

Encouraging a sustainable diet and responsible consumption

Kukup is a predominantly fishing town, while land farming consists of oil palm as a cash crop rather than other forms of food crops. Therefore, the primary food source harvested by the people living in the area comes from the sea. Our main objective as WWF-Malaysia is to simultaneously increase sustainable fish production, rehabilitate the environment, and increase the access of sustainably-produced fish. Thus, with the increased fish production due to improved farming methods and surrounding environment, this project will also provide incoming tourists as well as domestic and Singapore markets better accessibility to responsibly-farmed fish produced in Kukup village. 

The Kukup community will be able to proudly promote their fish that is produced responsibly by their own farmers as the ‘first fishing village to serve responsible and sustainable fish’ and highlighting to tourists that Kukup is ‘the coastal town to be where you can experience a sustainable diet of eating responsibly-produced fish’, thus being able to sustain their iconic fresh seafood as Kukup's tourist attraction for many years to come. Responsible seafood consumption will also increase within the domestic and Singapore markets that the farmers supply into. 

Ideally, the success of this project will lead to improved food safety and traceability, where the fish are not only sustainably produced but will also be free from diseases and toxins due to practicing the best aquaculture practices (BAP) guidelines that aim to ensure food safety as a priority for the farmers involved. 

Overspill impact in improving access to basic food and financial infrastructures

Another restriction that the Kukup community currently faces is that access to infrastructure is relatively far away. The closest town to Kukup, with basic infrastructures like the bank and medium-sized markets for provisions are situated nearly 20km away, with no public transport available. In the meantime, Kukup is equipped with relatively small local grocery stores and a night market once a week. 

We envision that through the success of Kukup’s modernised farming industry that can elevate Kukup’s seafood industry as a whole, we see a potential overspilling effect of improvements for the infrastructure surrounding Kukup, which may include a small bank to ease financial transactions for Kukup’s improved economy, and larger grocery markets for better access to diversified food groups besides Kukup’s farmed fish alone. We intend to collaborate with our partners in the public and private sectors to materialise the developments of these amenities for the people living in Kukup so that by 2050, hence there will be a marked improvement from Kukup communities’ current day-to-day lifestyle.

Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?

By 2050 we foresee an expansion of economic opportunities, with more jobs available to meet the demand of a growing population. Our ideal economic situation would be as follows:

a) The thriving farmed fish production after moving offshore and practicing BAP guidelines within cluster farming will open doors to other industries and potential job creation for both men and women, such as a seafood processing industry where majority of women are able to work in manufacturing fish and other seafood into new value-added items as part of Kukup’s trade and tourism specialty. 

b) With diversification of seafood products such as fish fillets, surimi (e.g. fish balls), or fish skin chips to offer on top of current fresh and dried seafood products, we foresee Kukup thriving  as a seafood hub by 2050 that provides more income opportunities for the whole community.  Rather than just being a source for farmed fish, Kukup will already be establishing a self-sufficient domestic supply chain, where the trade of Kukup’s new and existing seafood products will be fully operated by the locals themselves, regardless of gender, as the sellers, traders, promoters, and also consumers. 

c) Additionally, we are proposing a cluster farming system as part of modernising Kukup fish farming, which is a participatory approach by a group of farmers who collectively make plans and decisions while at the same time implement good aquaculture practice in order to accomplish common goals e.g. reducing operation risks, maximising return of investments, and achieving an economy of scale. Through forming a cluster system where the farmers can consolidate management through mutual understanding and a set of aquaculture guidelines, they can create a stronger collective to achieve their common goals while able to independently own their respective businesses. 

d) As mentioned before, tourism is also one of the main income sources for Kukup. This sector is currently still under-developed and only benefits certain sections of the communities. By 2050, we hope that Kukup will have a booming holistic eco agro-tourism industry by taking advantage of all the existing potential that it currently has, alongside the increased impact of biodiversity improvements of the Kukup Strait as a result of the Kukup farms being moved offshore. 

For example, the Kukup Island Johor National Park is a tourist attraction that has the potential to draw in a high number of visitors not only as the second largest mangrove island in the world, but also for its increasing wildlife sightings around its improved biodiversity area. With proper promotion and maintenance by the Kukup community themselves, this island will be one of the many unique tourist attractions in Kukup by 2050. 

Additionally, Kukup fish farmers and/or fishers are able to leverage educational tours for tourists to the responsible fish farming site during calm seas and weather. This can increase public awareness on the need for responsible production of food, and help to connect people better to their food source that is of high quality, safe to eat, and produced in an environmentally and socially-conscious environment.

Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?

Sustaining fish farming tradition

To date, fish farming activity has been around in Kukup for more than half a century. Fish farming activities are deeply rooted in the heart of the Kukup coastal community, as they provide alternative income to their earlier wild-caught fishing activities to support their livelihoods. Despite the worsening production rate of the farmed fish, the older generation would still prefer to keep their farms operating in the polluted Kukup Strait mainly due to easy access and sentimentality of the current site, and are hesitant to move offshore due to financial constraints and higher levels of uncertainty associated with new approaches. 

Although convincing the older generation for moving offshore and modernization would be challenging, changes can be made slowly through proper engagement and support. Our team was informed by young fish farmer Mr Lim during the Refinement Phase that in early 2020, a small progress was made when he himself and another young fish farmer in Kukup were selected by the Department of Fisheries to participate in an offshore fish farming trial using HDPE cages. Both fish farmers have reported better fish survival rate, improved growth, and shorter harvest time compared to the traditional method in the Strait of Kukup. This achievement is already a key milestone for the Kukup fish farming industry in their ability to sustain their tradition of fish farming while slowly embracing modernisation in the industry. By 2050, offshore fish farming and best aquaculture practices (BAP) implementation would become a norm in Kukup.

Sustaining the community’s cultural identity and spirit

Besides fish farming, other existing traditions and practices can also be elevated innovatively. For example, based on the concerns raised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia, Kukup fishers are also facing declining fish catch in the nearby coastal areas of Kukup due to pollution from coastal development, which forces them to fish further offshore. Hence, instead of solely relying on offshore fishing as their main income, there is ample potential for them to leverage on the improving biodiversity of Kukup Strait after the fish farms are moved offshore. 

A portion of local Malays in Kukup are of Bugis descent, who have been historically linked to water as their main source of economic activity. They have been living in Kukup as fishers for generations. The result of this Vision will ensure that, while still retaining their cultural identity and key income generator as fishers, the local Malays can stay connected to their culture of being associated to water and explore additional source of income with their experienced boat navigation skills by offering eco-friendly tourist activities in Kukup such as recreational fishing packages, dolphin watching, or water tours.

Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?

Our Vision for Kukup encourages utilisation of modern aquaculture approaches which includes modern high density polyethylene (HDPE) cages that are more durable, can withstand harsh weather conditions, long-lasting with minimal maintenance,  and environmentally friendly. Once the cages are fully adopted by the Kukup fish farmers, this will allow opportunities for other technological advances to be utilised in order to enhance the HDPE cage operations and maintenance in 2050 and beyond. 

While the HDPE cages will be located further offshore from Kukup village, the ocean waves in this new location will be much higher and exposed to annual South West and the North East Monsoon, which will be dangerous for daily manual labor work. Hence, most of the operations will gradually need to be automated, such as drones to monitor water quality, fish behavior, repairing broken cage, collect waste and dead fish; artificial intelligence (AI) to improve decision making in dispensing feed, disease management, forecasting species and number of fish to stock based on market trend; live satellite imagery to monitor harmful algal bloom and pollution. In addition to incorporating best aquaculture practices (BAP), trash fish usage for feed will be a thing of the past as their fish will be fed with feed made from alternative feed ingredients. By incorporating effective technology, farmers can also predict and monitor climate change related impacts, thus helping to mitigate or adapt to the impacts. Farms will be adaptable to grow fish that are more resilient to climate change, able to stock intensively, and grow quickly to meet increasing demand of domestic and Singaporean markets. 

We also project that renewable energy will become much cheaper as the years progress to 2050 and there will be more machines developed to utilise these energy resources. Thus, the Kukup fish farmers are expected to utilise more renewable energy in managing their modernised farm operations. By having the farms located off-grid, the farmers will have the opportunity to harvest green energy sources such as solar and wave energy through micro power generators to operate their daily automated farming activities. 

By 2050, the Internet of Things will become a norm by improving efficiency in the supply chain. The Internet of Things refers to a system of interrelated computing, mechanical, and digital devices with unique identifiers (UIDs) that enables data transfers over a network without the need for human intervention or operation. For example, Kukup fish farmers will be enabled to stock fish species and numbers according to market needs through the usage of market demand forecasting technology. With enhanced transaction and traceability through systems like blockchain, unwanted food waste and financial loss in the supply chain can be prevented.

Though no proper feasibility study on the trial area beforehand, the young farmers’ success in conducting the offshore fish farming trial using HDPE cages supported by the Department of Fisheries have emphasized that offshore modernised farming is indeed feasible and promising for us to continue developing our Vision from the technological perspective. However due to land-use conflict at the trial site, the farms might have to relocate further offshore. Hence, in-depth studies on the project feasibility, site selection, and developing sustainable financing mechanism are also crucial to reduce the risk of failure in future.

Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?

When re-reviewing our gathered information from stakeholders such as the Kukup farmers, government agencies, and industry players, we found that these are the immediate policies that are needed to enable a smoother development of our Vision, Kukup’s food system towards 2050:

1) Aquaculture policies

a) Federal government to make the local voluntary aquaculture standard MyGAP mandatory for all operations

MyGAP is a national certification developed by the Department of Fisheries Malaysia to improve the quality of aquaculture operations and products in the country. At the moment, MyGAP certification is voluntary but is a requirement for fish farmers who want to export their products overseas.

b) Relocation of all fish farming cages in the straits of Kukup by the District Office of Pontian 

Due to the highly degraded water quality, close proximity to the community and Ramsar site, and a high traffic area; it is best for the aquaculture farmers in the Straits of Kukup to move to a better location far from the shore. The negative effects of current practice are already seen and felt by both the fish farmers and surrounding community. In fact, the Johor government is planning to gazet near-shore Aquaculture Industry Zone (AIZ) from Pontian to Tanjung Piai in order to standardize the management of all aquaculture activities. The proposed AIZ will cover fish farming and bivalve farming along the coast. 

2) Infrastructural policies

Implementation of a proper sewage system in Kukup town to support Kukup’s progressing development as a seafood hub. We envision that through the efforts of the Kukup fish farmers and community to modernise and leverage on the increasing production of responsible farmed fish, this would enable a stronger proposal to the local authorities for them to accelerate the plans of installing the sewage system in Kukup. 

Kukup food system model as a catalyst to develop better policies

We hope that through the inspiration and learnings of Kukup’s flourishing food system by 2050, Malaysia will have an agrofood policy that promotes responsible aquaculture production. This would mean that any aquaculture business will have to operate within natural or ecological limits that does not harm nature and will not lead to further environmental consequences in the future.  It is also important that basic social standards are included and established to ensure that there will be no compromises in the social safeguards of an aquaculture operation. 

Changes would be seen made within the Fisheries Act and Environment Quality Act to include the following:

a)  Best aquaculture practice (BAP) is necessary for all new and existing operations

b) Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) need to be conducted prior to establishing any new aquaculture sites

c)  Annual auditing of aquaculture operations to ensure adherence to the above conditions.

There will be a biodiversity conservation policy framework in place that also enables the effective mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation within the aquaculture sector. Together with the revisions to the Fisheries Act, this framework will necessitate that all aquaculture operations will take into account the biodiversity of the natural habitat in any potential site. This will deter the setup of aquaculture operations in biodiversity sensitive areas. Ideally, this framework will also include a clause for payment of ecosystem services (PES), whereby the aquaculture operators will be required to pay a levy to any environmental costs of their business.

Aquaculture practices will have a sustainability standard to adhere to, with traceability and transparency systems in place. This will ensure the quality and safety of aquaculture products while also putting regulations in place to monitor the operating standards of aquaculture operators. Part of the sustainability standards will also include social safeguards that protect basic human rights of employees and communities living near an aquaculture site.

Beyond 2050, fiscal policies will be designed to promote responsible and climate-resilient food production systems. Aquaculture is increasingly becoming an important economic and seafood source, and the government will need to redirect subsidies and include fiscal incentives that promote sustainable aquaculture. One of these incentives could be a subsidy for green aquaculture business ventures where grants are given to businesses that meet the required sustainability standards. PES will be included as part of the tax levy for businesses operating in areas with environmental impacts.

Financial institutions would also need to adapt to the changing policies by fully incorporating responsible banking services that take into account the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) implications to all investments. This means that sustainability and societal impacts will be part of the criteria to any financial schemes, thereby incentivising more responsible aquaculture operations.

Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.

By moving Kukup fish farms offshore using durable HDPE cages and implementing best aquaculture practices (BAP) within a cluster farming system, the fish survival rate could improve up to 70% while ensuring the farm operations are conducted without compromising the health of the marine environment. The continuous environmental protection of the new aquaculture site contributes to better fish production, thus improving the incomes of the Kukup farmers. Moving these farms will also lead to the environmental recovery of the previous farming site, thus increasing biodiversity and resilience of the Kukup Strait as well as the adjacent Kukup Island Ramsar site.

The increased fish survival rate and production volume would contribute to the economic development of the whole Kukup community by opening new business opportunities such as seafood processing activities, thus potentially expanding Kukup into a seafood trading hub. We aspire Kukup town as a local catalyst for promoting a sustainable diet, specifically its own responsibly-farmed fish as an animal protein source that benefits both humans and the environment. Hence, Kukup will be able to serve their responsibly-farmed fish to domestic and Singapore markets as well as incoming tourists that assures quality,  food safety, and minimal environmental impact, while promoting responsible seafood consumption.

As Kukup town also engages in tourism, it has a high potential to venture into a holistic eco agro-tourism destination where tourists can experience activities such as educational tours on responsible fish farming or taking a boat tour around Kukup Ramsar site to observe wildlife such as dolphins, otters, and eagles. This would diversify job opportunities for the Kukup villagers while ensuring that Kukup’s natural environment is continuously protected. 

There is the cultural clash of tradition versus modernity for the betterment of the future, where compared to the young farmers of the Kukup community, the older generation still prefers to retain the traditional fish farming methods. Hence, we strive to proceed with this modernisation project in a stepwise approach by working with the young farmers firsthand to jointly develop a pilot project. Through positive results gained, we hope to convince the whole Kukup fish farmer community of our Vision’s feasibility to shift towards modern yet profitable and environmentally-sustainable methods of fish farming, thus being able to sustain their farming practice and fresh produce for future generations.

We hope Kukup’s successful food system model through multi-stakeholder collaborations could convince the government enough to actively improve gaps in existing policies and formulate relevant new policies by incorporating key environmental, social, and economical synergies within the aquaculture industry and its food system. Thus, this may lead to the scaling up of Kukup’s effective model for all aquaculture operations in Malaysia. 

Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.

By 2050, fish farmers need to adopt modernization for their fish farming activities due to stricter government policies and more frequent natural disasters due to climate change. The transition is inevitable but is also capital intensive. Kukup farmers need higher investment to modernize their fish farms and move offshore as the capital expenditure is much higher than their current conventional practice. For example, the capital cost of a 10m round HDPE cage is approximately four times higher than their commonly used 5x5m wooden cage. However, the investment of HDPE cages will be off-set with four times more production space (deeper water column), two to three times longer lifespan compared to wooden cage and less maintenance cost over the next 20 years. The return of investment in HDPE cages will also be achieved within the first three years of operation, according to projection by local aquaculture industry experts.  

Besides high entry investment, Kukup fish farmers will have to reduce the type of fish farmed in the HDPE cages as not all species will be able to adapt in an offshore environment. Carefully selected species will ensure stable production and good profit margin all year round.

They would also need to spend some time and effort to adapt new farming methods. It is a common understanding that the aquaculture industry, especially open sea aquaculture, is a high risk industry where aquaculture operators must face the reality of the potential dangerous risk of working in bad weather and sea conditions. While technological assistance may help to minimise these risks, it would take time for exploration before adoption. 

3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?

1) Feasibility study and business plan in place

The feasibility study will identify potential sites for offshore aquaculture. A business plan will be developed based on results of the feasibility study to assist the first seven farmers in getting the initial seed fund to start their offshore operations. The business plan will also ensure that the farmers will operate according to the BAP guidelines by including them in the framework structure from the onset. 

2) Development of best aquaculture practice (BAP) guidelines

The development of BAP guidelines will help farmers in the pilot project operate responsibly which includes efficient use of natural resources, improved feeding efficiency, better aquaculture waste management, regular water quality monitoring etc. 

3) Cage setup and assembly

The highest cost of the project will be the HDPE cage fabrication and assembly. Funding opportunities will be required by the farmers at this stage. A local company will be engaged to assist in the fabrication and assembly.

4) Pilot project

Within three years, implementation of offshore HDPE cage farming system will be conducted with a cluster of 6-cage module farms which will also incorporate best aquaculture practices.  All the work plan of the project will be based on the feasibility study and other important information from the Department of Fisheries’s HDPE cage trial.

5) Development of sustainable financing mechanism

Once the pilot project is proven to be successful, a sustainable financing mechanism will be developed to enable the business model to be expanded in Kukup or replicable in other areas. These can be done through contract farming mechanisms, where participants will use standard operating procedures to get familiar with the farming system, reduce risk of failure and with ready buyers to absorb the produce. 

10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?

Within ten years, this project will need to accomplish the following to ensure that our vision will become a reality by 2050:-

a) A sustainable financing mechanism must already be in place to ensure continuity of the business up to 2050

b) By 2030, evidence of significantly better production (more than 70% survival rate) from offshore farming has convinced more farmers to follow suit in modernizing their farming offshore and practicing BAP. They have found that mutual benefits and risks are more efficiently managed by grouping themselves within a cluster farming system. Furthermore, fish farming in the Strait of Kukup will be more restricted in the future as the local government would aim to maintain good environmental quality in the strait. The relocation of farming activities from the strait has also reduced the current on-going sedimentation of waste from the floating cages.

c) Sustainable aquaculture is a major economic contributor to the local economy and aquaculture development plans are to be included in the Kukup town spatial planning. The setting up of seafood processing facilities, blooming restaurants and markets will provide job opportunities for local communities. 

d) Development plans for secondary stakeholders identified by local authorities, e.g. alternative income opportunities for small-scale fishers and small-scale tourism operators

e) All necessary infrastructure is in place e.g. a proper sewage system and established jetties. 

f) Eco agro-tourism is growing steadily with the support of state and federal governments, with funding provision for homegrown homestays (local guest houses/bed and breakfasts) and tourism operators. Basic necessary infrastructure like banks and supermarkets are also available with better public transport to the closest town for ease of local access. 

If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?

Green Business Plan and BAP Guideline (USD10,000)

A business plan will be developed based on results of the feasibility study to assist farmers in getting the initial seed fund to start their offshore operations. The business plan will also ensure that the farmers will operate according to the BAP guidelines by including them in the framework structure from the onset. 

Identification of Aquaculture Industrial Zone and supporting studies (USD20,000)

The purpose of the Aquaculture Industrial Zone will improve the overall management of aquaculture in Kukup, and minimize conflict of interest of other stakeholders for the area.  

Capacity building for farmers (USD20,000)

Offshore farming and operating HDPE cages are relatively new for current fish farmers in Kukup. Farmers need to be well-trained to operate the cages in rough weather and sea conditions to minimize the risk. For example, net changing, harvesting fish, repairing broken net cage offshore will be very different from their current practices and hence they need to be familiar with the new practices. Study trips to HDPE operation sites will be allocated this budget.

Pilot project seed funding (USD80,000)

High capital investment will be a major barrier for farmers to adopt new farming practices, therefore some financial support/incentives are needed to ease the start-up.

Development of sustainable financing mechanism (USD20,000)

Once the pilot project is proven to be successful, a sustainable financing mechanism will be developed to enable the business model to be expanded in Kukup.

Operational cost (USD20,000)

This covers the project’s travelling expenses for the next few years ahead. Relevant expenditures include accommodation, per diem, taxi, flight tickets, fuel and boat rental. 

Management Cost (USD30,000)

This covers project support (finance, communications, monitoring & evaluation, IT, etc.), administrative costs and overheads, shared by all projects in the organisation.

If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?

The biggest lesson we have learned throughout working on this project is that community co-creation is a slow process, but it is vital in making our shared vision a reality. It might take a few years of extensive planning to get the project off the ground, but it is better to have a comprehensive understanding of the people and place before designing any potential solutions. 

With the growing demand for protein and accompanying standards of safety and sustainability, and the world looking at aquaculture to bridge that demand, it is crucial that the aquaculture industry become sustainable and resilient, both operationally and financially. Technology and investment are the key ingredients to scale quickly. This project is allowing us to provide that for the small-scale farmers. 

We also strongly believe that nature cannot be compromised for modernisation, solutions must be complementary with sustainability of nature or we will risk a greater loss in the future.  Finally, we will reap better benefits in the long run when we include nature as a key element in designing successful projects.

Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.

Please refer to the attached picture which illustrates Kukup's food system and the various influences that makes up the entire system.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Eufemio Rasco

Dear Amierah Amer,
I read your Vision with much interest as our Vision also covers mariculture. One of our usual constraints is availability of capital and market access. How did you address these issues?
Thank you very much for your kind attention. I also invite you to look at our Vision "Feeding Metro Manila in 2050". We will value your comments.
Eufemio Rasco

Photo of Itika Gupta

Hi Amierah Amer congratulations on putting together a Vision with such a clear plan of action and actionable steps supporting the launch of the vision's path. During refinement, how might you detail out feasibility of scaling up action plans through policy reform and weave the key points into a flowing narrative?

Photo of Jared Thomassen

Great work overall! Here is what a team including myself came up with after looking over and reviewing this proposal
Value in this idea -

Overall this idea has a lot of different concepts and ideas that will provide a lot of value. One of the best benefits to moving the fish cages off shoar will be an increase in its yield, as much as 30%. There are several ways that this idea will help to provide a leger yield. One way is that moving the cages off shoar will provide better circulation that will keep disease down among the fish. Moving farther of shoar will also prevent the cages from getting contaminated with sewage and silt. Another great benefit is the fact that the new material that these cages will be made out of is very strong and durable. Its strength will allow it to be placed farther offshore and still withstand the force of the waves. Its durability will provide a low maintenance system that won't need as many repairs as the current wooden crates do.
Potential issues they have not identified

Potential issues -

One area that might be worth paying more attention to is that We didn't find a lot of information in the proposal was the cost of production and when the expense would be paid for with the potential high yield. Assuming there is a 30% increase in yield that would then translate to more revenue, it's only worth it if this system is cost beneficial. The new design and materials are durable and strong, but how much do they cost to build and install. How long before the higher yield will pay for the increase in production cost. There is also the problem that even though this material is low maintenance, there is now the added expense of having to travel farther off shoar to maintain the system. It might not be a large expense, but it is one that will set back the amount of time it takes to break even on the initial cost. The plan also calls for this transition to take place in the entire region. One thing to consider would be to initiate this plan in smaller sections to do a sort of trial run, and if it works out as planned then expand to the entire region.

Areas to pay more attention to -

There was a section in the proposal that talked about the challenge of getting the locals and some of the older business owners to switch to this new system. In a lot of ways this system definitely seems better than the old way, but it might be worth seeing if the people are willing to change their way of doing things in the first place. This new system might be better, but these people have to be willing to take the risk that it will actually be better and pay for itself in the end. As mentioned in the proposal that some of the older people that run the fish cages might not want to switch. Part of this might be that they want to be traditional, but also it might be because they are too old to make a risky change in their business that is this large.

Also here is a concept sketch

Photo of Itika Gupta

Dear Amierah Amer  , Congratulations on being shortlisted as a Semi-Finalist. Welcome to Refinement!

Through refinement, we'd like to see the details in the broad strokes of the Vision you painted for your region.
How might you bring your Vision into sharper focus through:
1. Building partnerships and forming a systemic and multi-disciplinary Vision Team
2. Visualising your future food system to help people see and feel the future of their food system
3. Assessing the feasibility of your future food system to better anticipate its needs and challenges

We invite you to take full advantage of the open platform here – to tag in team members into your Vision, connect with other Refinement teams, and solicit feedback from participants around the world.

It’s great to continue with you into this next phase. Consider me your support for questions you might have while on this platform.

Looking forward to seeing a detailed and Refined Vision for your region in the coming weeks.

Photo of Giok P Chua

Selaamat Pagi Tuan Amer
Congratulations on getting into Semi Finals
I am in JB. Will be glad to help in your Fin-Fish Offshore project to be the Top 10.
Am contactable at

Photo of Nicole Civita

Hi Amierah Amer -- What an interesting intervention to a major challenge. "with less than 30% of fish fingerlings surviving to a size acceptable to be sold in markets"... That is a staggering statistic and really speaks to the level of waste and suffering in the current system. I have so many questions about how your intervention . would work, how animal welfare could be improved through this system, what the risks of escapes might be, etc. -- but it is not yet the time for all that because we are VISIONING at this stage. So instead, I'll ask: How will lives change for the stakeholders in your region? For the marine ecosystem? What risks might increase as climate volatility/sea level rise/etc. continues to tighten its grip? What other interventions might be complementary to yours?

PS: Great evidence of stakeholder engagement. We've learned a lot through taking to the farmers in our corner of Asia: Maati-Paani-Asha: Regeneration of Hope, Health, Land & Community in the Face of Extreme Poverty & Climate Crisis 

Photo of Thu Nguyen

Hi Amierah Amer 

Welcome to the Food System Vision Prize Community! Thank you for sharing your Vision about the aquaculture in Kukup, Malaysia.

Since the Prize asks you to imagine the food system in 2050, we encourage you to think more about vision than solution. Could you share with us how you might evolve your Vision to make it more inclusive and systemic for your local food system and its numerous stakeholders? You can find some guiding principles on Systems Thinking and inspiration in the Vision Prize Toolkit in Chapter 2 under Tools of Transformation:

You can also check criteria of evaluation the Vision on the Food System Vision Prize website in the section "How Your Vision will be Evaluated"

Please note that the last day to submit your final Vision is on Jan 31, 2020 5 PM Eastern Standard Time. Look forward to seeing your Vision evolve through the coming weeks.

Photo of Mat Jones

Hi Amierah, I like the specific details in your submission - they show real depth of insight into the issues and solutions for one community. In your Full Vision, it would be good to know what the social consequences in 2050 might look like as a result of your innovative idea for aquaculture.