Fish farmers in the Savusavu Tilapia Farmers Cluster took receipt today of gear and equipment used for breeding and nursing baby fish. The equipment will help support new fish stocks as they are introduced into ponds and help ensure they are able to grow to harvest size.
On hand to present Cluster Leader Mr. Graeme Hynes with the fish breeding equipment, which included brood stock nets, fish harvesting nets and gear for handling, counting and size-grading fish fingerlings, was Fisheries Technical Officer (Brackish Aquaculture) Mr Anand Prasad and District Officer Tukavesi Mr. Samuela Saumatua. “The focus of Government fish-breeding is assisting new fish farmers to get established, and food-security subsistence farmers” said Mr. Prasad. “We expect those who turn fish farming into a business to become self-reliant. We have been working with the Aquaculture Section of SPC to train advanced farmers to do their own fish breeding, and take the pressure off government hatcheries which face a big demand to supply Fiji’s tilapia farmers with enough fish fingerlings”.
For several months the Savusavu Tilapia Cluster members have received training from SPC and Ministry of Fisheries in the basics of breeding and rearing tilapia fish in nursery ponds, and handling them properly for distribution. With the items of equipment handed over today, they can scale-up their fish breeding activities, and get better control of the level of income they can expect from their fish ponds each year.
“Supply of baby fish for pond stocking has been the main thing holding us back in our fish farm businesses” said Eliki Gonelevu and Tekope Toka of Savudrodro village near Savusavu. “Being able to breed our own fish here in the Savusavu district is a big step forward for us”. The equipment was provided by Government of New Zealand through the Pacific Sustainable Aquaculture project administered regionally by the Pacific Community SPC, and implemented in Fiji jointly with Ministry of Fisheries.
The Savusavu tilapia cluster has a total farming area of 12,000m2 and based on the Pacific Community economic research, the farms are only producing 15% of their full capacity because of factors like short supply of fish fingerlings.
The Savusavu Tilapia Cluster is one of three collaborative fish farmer groups now operating in Fiji under the guidance of Ministry of Fisheries and SPC, with two others in Viti Levu – one in Nadi, and one in Tailevu South. The farmers meet monthly, share knowledge and ideas, coordinate their selling, nominate members to undertake fish-breeding, and share ownership of expensive equipment items like harvest nets, fish tanks and weighing scales.