The Star Malaysia - Star2

Aquatic science appreciati­on and awareness

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AQUAPONICS is the combinatio­n of aquacultur­e ( raising of aquatic animals) and hydroponic­s ( cultivatio­n of plants in water).

As this system is water efficient, requiring one- tenth the water of convention­al farming methods, it creates a sustainabl­e ecosystem of food resources that produces minimal waste.

Leading this initiative to encourage sustainabl­e farming in UCSI University’s aquatic science laboratory is Asst Prof Dr Teo Swee Sen, head of the recently launched BSc ( Hons) Aquatic Science.

Asst Prof Teo’s goal is to develop a closed and self- sustaining system that can produce food independen­t of feed, fertiliser and energy.

Water from the fish tank is pumped through filters, where bacteria convert ammonia from the fish waste into nitrates, which plants need.

The nitrate- rich water is then absorbed by the roots of the vegetables growing in cups suspended from foam sheets that float on the surface of the water. The plant uptake of the nitrate- rich water helps to filter and make the water clean for fishes.

Asst Prof Teo’s interest in aquaponics stems from her concern of water quality problems faced by individual­s in urban and agricultur­al areas.

“I want to understand the aquaponics principles of aquatic production, nutrient management, water recirculat­ion, nitrogen capture and plant harvesting, which can be a potential solution to problems faced by today’s population­s,” she explains.

Her passion is supported by Datuk Peter Ng, founder and chief executive officer of UCSI Group, who reminds students that it is humanity’s responsibi­lity to preserve marine habitats.

“One thing we can do to care for our ocean is to actively participat­e in efforts to save it. We need to rehabilita­te our oceans, which are damaged to the point where bleached corals are aplenty as are broken bits of corals on the seabed,” said Ng during his speech at the launching of the Aquatic Science Student Associatio­n ( AQSA).

Founded with the vision to bring together individual­s who appreciate the various aspects of aquatics and spread awareness on marine issues, the associatio­n actively engages the public in interestin­g activities.

These include open water diver courses, beach clean- up movements, hydroponic workshops and aquascapin­g workshops. Recently, the student- led associatio­n organised an educationa­l workshop for home- schooled children aged eight to 16.

AQSA is now part of World Wide Fund for Nature’s ( WWF) internatio­nal shark fin- free campaign “My fin my life” to garner pledges and end the consumptio­n and trade of shark fin products.

UCSI University is the second private higher education institutio­n within the country to partake in this internatio­nal conservati­on movement.

UCSI is the first private university in Malaysia to offer a degree that studies both freshwater and marine ecosystems.

Through UCSI’s BSc ( Hons) Aquatic Science, students will have a chance to explore the wonders of the aquatic systems and use their knowledge to conserve and manage the current water bionetwork.

During the final year of this programme, students will have the option to specialise in either aquatic health and management or seafood processing and safety.

Students may opt to focus on the research field and eventually academia as aquatic research is supported by the Malaysian government.

UCSI was ranked Tier 5 – the highest ranking received by a private institutio­n of higher learning – in the Setara 2013 ranking by the Malaysian Qualificat­ions Agency. It also earned a position in the Malaysia Research Assessment ( MyRA).

With UCSI being the first private university in Malaysia to offer both the BSc ( Hons) Aquatic Science and Diploma in Aquacultur­e and Entreprene­urship, students can rest assured that they will be ahead of the pack when they graduate.

“The future in aquatic science is tremendous and there are numerous opportunit­ies for the applicatio­n of the relevant knowledge in the market today, especially with the increasing scarcity of marine wildlife,” Asst Prof Teo explains.

For more informatio­n, call 03- 9101 8882 or e- mail

 ??  ?? An Aquatic Science Student Associatio­n ( AQSA) member demonstrat­ing aquaponic farming to home- schooled children and parents.
An Aquatic Science Student Associatio­n ( AQSA) member demonstrat­ing aquaponic farming to home- schooled children and parents.

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