Today, the Fiji Minister of Fisheries Mr Semi Koroilavesau visited oyster fishers of the Muanaira Women’s Group in Rewa to acknowledge their commitment to successfully trialling a new way of growing oysters by farming. The group is leading an experimental trial of farming mangrove oysters in the Rewa River delta, with the first batch of oysters now at harvest size.
In late 2018, scientists from the Fisheries Research department of the Fiji Ministry of Fisheries (MoF) teamed up with aquaculture experts from the Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems division of the Pacific Community (SPC-FAME) and the Vutia community to find out if there was an easier way to ensure a steady supply of edible oysters.
Practical techniques used in Australia, such as setting pipes to catch oyster spat and then growing the oysters in mesh baskets, were introduced to Fiji and adapted to the local situation at Vutia. SPC-FAME also provided socio-economic and value-chain analyses to support the process.
“Development of edible oyster aquaculture based on local species ties in with the MoF strategy and objectives to diversify coastal livelihoods opportunities, especially for women, and to reduce pressure on coastal fisheries” says Mr Semi Koroilavesau Fiji Minister of Fisheries.
Oysters harvested from the fishery come in all different shapes and sizes, whereas the experimental batch of farmed oysters are of consistent size and shape with their shells forming a deep cup. Oyster farming also creates the possibility of selling oysters to the more lucrative restaurant trade.
“Oysters here are a key part of our life,” said Lanieta Tubuna from the Women’s Group. “It is used for consumption, for traditional purposes, and as a source of income when sold in Suva market as shelled oyster meat.” she added
The target in the next 10 years is for MoF to assist 60% of the 850 coastal communities with seafoodcommodity development. The importance of fish for nutrition, food security and livelihoods among Pacific communities has been highlighted in this region through reviews and regional fora. The small-scale aquaculture response to food security will be crucial for the coming decade.
“It normally takes one-and-a-half years to produce a good-sized edible oyster, but these ones are ready after only one year,” says Timothy Pickering, SPC Aquaculture expert. “With these promising results, the members of the Muanaira Women’s Group can hope that their oysters will be more plentiful, easier to harvest, supply higher-priced markets, and provide more income to their community for generations to come. Oyster farming is one of the most sustainable forms of aquaculture with low environmental impact, high sustainability and high net benefit to society.”
This trial is being co-funded by Fiji Ministry of Fisheries and SPC. SPC’s contribution is being made through the Sustainable Pacific Aquaculture Development Project (PacAqua), funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) under the New Zealand Aid Programme
Kuini Waqasavou, Senior Media Officer, Fiji Ministry of Fisheries | P: (679) 330 0555 or M: (679) 8932 254 or [email protected] - www.fisheries.gov.fj
Toky Rasoloarimanana, Communications Officer, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division, Pacific Community (SPC) | [email protected] or M: +687 89 93 94