|SPC Pacific-Asia Marine Fish Mariculture Technical Workshop: Farming Marine Fishes for our Future (01/2009)|
|Tuesday, 11 December 2007 00:00|
By Antoine Teitelbaum
Marine finfish farming in the Pacific Islands regionÂ Rapid advances are being made in marine fish aquaculture. Traditionally, large commercial interests â€” such as the European salmon farming industry â€” have taken the lead. More recently, however, the strong market demand in Asia for live reef fish has led to a rapid increase in localised production. According to the FAO State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2004, the quantity of farmed marine fish in Asia is 900,000 mt in Asia, and is 1.5 million mt for the rest of the world These well developed industries pose relevant issues for the Pacific Islands region.
There has been considerable interest within Pacific Island countries to investigate options for marine fish aquaculture in order to supply domestic and/or international markets for food and ornamental species. Several countries have achieved commercial production of high-value species and there is an increasing list of public and private sectors involved in the industry.Â
At the 2nd SPC Regional Aquaculture Meeting (held in November 2006), SPC member countries identified marine finfish as an important commodity for development. Subsequently, SPC has become more involved in this field. One recent example is a three-week course in marine finfish hatchery training for Pacific Islanders held in Thailand in May 2007. In addition, SPC wishes to provide sound advice on marine finfish aquaculture by using its Asian, Australian and Pacific counterparts.Â
SPC later decided to organise a consultative forum among technical experts to enable a face-to-face exchange of ideas and a discussion of issues. While the situation differs from country to country within the region (and between regions), there are some strategic issues of common concern in which the sharing of technical information could be of mutual benefit.
Marine finfish aquaculture in the PacificÂ Â
In December 2007, SPCâ€™s Aquaculture Section hosted the Pacific-Asia Marine Fish Technical Workshop, at SPCâ€™s headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia. Selected countries with prospects of developing a marine finfish aquaculture industry were invited to attend the workshop, together with a regional group of experts.Â
Government fisheries agencies representative from French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands were invited to attend the workshop. The following regional organisations from Australia, the Pacific and Asia also attended: IFREMER, Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia-Pacific (NACA), University of the South Pacific, Queensland Department of Primary Industry â€“ Northern Fisheries Centre, The WorldFish Center and the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Private sector investors for the region were also represented by Good Fortune Bay Fisheries (Australia and the Marshall Islands) and Aqualagon (New Caledonia).Â
The workshop was a technical consultation between marine finfish aquaculture experts and SPC member countries that are active in marine finfish aquaculture. The workshopâ€™s goal was to provide SPC with advice on the most feasible options for marine fish aquaculture and identify a regional framework for collaboration to address priority research and development needs in the Pacific.Â
Workshop objectives included:
Â§ Providing an update on the status of marine finfish farming within selected Pacific Island countries;
Â§ Assessing global trends of the industry in terms of production and markets;
Â§ Considering niche opportunities for the Pacific region, for example in terms of export and domestic markets and ensure food security;
Â§ Identifying priorities for research, development and training requirements; andÂ§ Establishing programmes for further regional and inter-regional collaboration.Â Presentations and activitiesÂ
On the first day of the workshop, each organisation presented its work and emphasised their involvement in marine finfish aquaculture development. After a short and much appreciated visit to the â€Aquarium des lagonsâ€, the official country representatives illustrated the latest marine finfish aquaculture development in their area of work.Â
Country and organisational presentations are summarised in the table below.Â
On the second day of the workshop, Johann Bell presented a paper entitled, â€œFish for the Futureâ€. The need for fish for both livelihood and food security in the Pacific region was discussed. This presentation also pointed out that the Pacific is not yet as advanced as its neighbours in Asia or Australia in terms of making aquaculture development a priority. Food security and basic cash income remain a major priority for the region.Â
Sih Yang Sim from NACA provided participants with a very detailed presentation on the status and trends of marine finfish aquaculture in Asia, including the markets, industry economics, farming practices used in the different countries, and future development. Asia is often used as a model for the Pacific Islands region, which must learn from Asiaâ€™s mistakes and successes.Â
In the Marshall Islands, a large-scale fish grow-out project is currently being implemented by Good Fortune Bay fisheries (based on importing fingerlings from their hatchery in Australia). The production will target the live reef fish market (grouper â€“Cromileptes altivelis and others) as well as the white filet market (cobia â€“ Rachycentron canadum). Provan Crump, the Good Fortune Bayâ€™s representative described the project, which is still in its initial phase, and explained how development was being forecasted and the place this industry was taking in the Marshall Islandsâ€™ economy. The project is aiming at being in full commercial scale within five years.
ÂMost up-to-date hatchery techniques were described by Richard Knuckey, from Cairns Queensland Department of Primary Industries-Northern Fisheries Centre. Research, challenges and current findings from this high-tech aquaculture centre were presented, including broodstock management, larval culture, diet development, grow-out culture (especially pond culture) and technology transfer to the private sector. The species of major interest in Cairns at the moment are Plectropomus leopardus, Epinephelus coioides, E. lanceolatus and E. fuscoguttaus.Â
A detailed analysis of post-larval capture and culture for marine food fish was provided by Tim Pickering from the University of the South Pacific. He analysed, together with research partners, the technical feasibility of relying on this technique for domestic food fish aquaculture development in both Fiji and the Solomon Islands (with reference to the French Polynesian experience). Other alternatives to capture-based aquaculture, which relies on wild-caught juvenile rabbitfish and natural seaweed as a feed source, was also discussed and appeared to be a viable option for rural aquaculture in the Pacific.Â
Two delegates presented the state of advancement of marine finfish culture in their countries with details. Georges Remoissenet from French Polynesiaâ€™s fisheries department, provided a full report on the batfish aquaculture project in Tahiti. An emphasis on biosecurity issues and a comparison of batfish production between Thailand and Tahiti was made. Percy Rechelluul from Palau described the production cycles and the most up-to-date findings related to grouper aquaculture in Palau. He also discussed the hatchery production of rabbitfish (Siganus fuscescens), which raised considerable interest among some workshop participants.Â
On the third and final day of the workshop, a special topic on training was presented by both NACA and SPC. Sih Yang Sim from NACA introduced and illustrated various training activities proposed by NACA, such as the grouper hatchery training course, the study programme on marine aquaculture and seafood market in China, the tailor-made marine fish aquaculture course, and the forecasted marine ornamental course in 2008. Finally, Antoine Teitelbaum, from SPCâ€™s Aquaculture Section provided a report on the marine fish hatchery training that SPC and NACA co-organised in Thailand.Â
Each day, workshop participants got together in small groups and worked on the following subjects:
- Developing linkages within the Asia-Pacific region. Three groups (representing Asia, Australia and the Pacific) analysed the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of those three regions towards providing guidance to the Pacific.
- Designing a regional strategic plan for marine finfish development in the Pacific Islands region (establishing objectives, strategies, action and indicators).
- Developing project concepts to address bottlenecks in the industry within the Pacific region.
Â Workshop outcomesÂ
A marine finfish aquaculture development strategic plan will also be developed in 2008, compiling the different experiences of the Pacific and using the results of the working groups. It will be posted online on the aquaculture portal at www.spc.int/aquacultureÂ
Continuous technical assistance will also be provided to countries on a case-by-case basis based on the knowledge that emerged from this very helpful workshop, for the benefit of a profitable development of this industry.Â Â