Small-pond tilapia aquaculture and aquaponics featured at Global Climate Change Alliance meeting

Small-pond aquaculture and aquaponics with tilapia fish was showcased within a climate change context at the “Market Place” session of the Global Climate Change Alliance project inception meeting on Scaling Up Pacific Adaptation GCCA+SUPA in Suva this week. The Market Place provided an opportunity for delegates to explore potential for scaling up of climate change adaptation approaches in the respective sectors.

The GCCA+SUPA project is financed by the European Union with EU 15 million over 4.5 years and implemented by Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the University of the South Pacific (USP).  

Bulou Vitukawalu and Timothy Pickering of Fisheries Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (FAME) Division of SPC interacted with participants at the FAME booth promoting SPC’s aquaculture work which is funded by New Zealand MFAT’s 5-year Sustainable Pacific Aquaculture Development for food security and economic growth (PacAqua) project.

The conversations about small-scale pond aquaculture with Nile tilapia revolved around four main themes:

  • Even low-tech and inefficient pond aquaculture makes important contributions to household nutrition, because it delivers fresh fish literally right to the doorsteps where it is needed, particularly any inland areas further than 5km from the coast in high islands where reef fish cannot be accessed on a daily basis.
  • Tilapia are a tropical freshwater fish very tolerant of high temperatures, so represent a climate change adaptation opportunity within the SW Pacific’s climate projections of (i) increased water temperatures, and (ii) higher average rainfalls.
  • Small-pond aquaculture is a disaster resilience strategy, because fish ponds are largely unaffected by cyclonic winds.  In the aftermath of TC Winston in Fiji, tilapia from household ponds was the first fresh animal-protein source available to rural communities during the initial 2-month post-disaster period when relief supplies were still being mobilised.
  • Gender assessments of small-pond aquaculture in Fiji and Samoa provide evidence of positive impacts in the social and economic standing of women as a direct result of their engagement in tilapia farming.  The role of women in Pacific aquaculture has been greatly under-estimated.  Now that this role has been identified, it next needs to be formalized, and supported.  

A working demonstration of aquaponics (tilapia fish + vegetables + nitrifying bacteria) provide to be a popular attraction at the SPC FAME booth in the Market Place exposition.  This “soil-less agriculture” concept is an emerging technology based upon recycling of water and is of particular interest to the GCCA+SUPA participants from atoll countries or rocky environments such as in Niue or Nauru.

The GCCA+SUPA project has a 4.5 year lifespan with three main output areas – (i) knowledge management, (ii) capacity building, and (iii) scaling up resilient development measures in specific sectors, utilizing a gender sensitive and rights based approach and involving all stakeholders. 

For more information:
Timothy Pickering, SPC Inland Aquaculture Advisor, at [email protected]

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