History of Aquaculture Development:
In 1955 tilapia was introduced into New Caledonia by the SPC, however no culture trials were carried out.
In 1974 an aquaculture centre was established at St Vincent Bay. Trials were carried out on various species including algae, cockle, lobster, milkfish, mullet, mussel, oyster, prawn, rabbitfish, shrimp and trochus.
The Philippines green mussel was introduced in 1972 at the St Vincent Bay station. By 1979 a few private farms were culturing mussels. Spawning was achieved with floating rafts. In 1981 a hurricane destroyed the rafts.
The blue prawn (L.stylirostris) was introduced between 1978 and 1981. It was identified as the best candidate for aquaculture after trials with local and imported prawns. Since then, the same strain was used for commercial production untill 2004. In 2004 pathogen free broodstock was introduced from hawaii to renew the genetic variability of New Caledonian prawns.
Since 1973, research was carried out by the CNEXO and then the IFREMER the first private prawn farm was established in 1981 and in 1983 the Society d'Aquaculture Caledonienne (SODACAL) initiated a 125-ha prawn farm at Mara.
Nowadays, there is 18 prawn farms in New Caledonia (670 ha), two conditionning plants, and two feed mills. The prawn farming industry employs about 1000 persons (full or part time employment - mostly unqualified staff) and produces about 2000-2500 tons per year.
Oyster farming (Crassostrea gigas) started in 1985. Today, the oyster farm "l'Huitriere de Dumbea" grows out oyster using spat imported from France. The production is sold on the local market.
In 1992, live red claw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) were imported from Australia. Since then, farmers and land owners from the west coast have diversified their activities with crayfish farming, when they had bore or stream water available. The "association Dulçaquicole Néo-Caledónienne" is working on strengthening the industry. 10 tonnes are produced yearly and sold to the local market.
Marine fish farming has know recent improvement with AQUALAGON, a company that have developped a protocole to rear rabbit fish (siganus lineatus). Main Features of the Industry :
Prospective in research and development are listed below:
- Enhance prawn production, together with the research output from IFREMER
- Reinforce crayfish, oysters, fish and lobster production for the local market
- Restock trochus, crabs, giant clams and sea cucumbers when necessary, in order to sustain coastal fishing activities
- Diversify the aquaculture industry towards fish farming, especially targeting the export markets
- Implement sustainable activities for export products such as ornamental fish, corals or seaweed,
The major constraints to tackle are linked to technical and economical feasibility given the high production costs in New Caledonia.