Aquaculture has ability to grow

Katarina Baleisuva working on her tilapia hatchery at her farm in Nakasi. Picture: JONA KONATACI

FIJI is now recognised in the region as the leader in freshwater aquaculture however the Ministry of Fisheries believes our competitive edge can be maintained through infrastructure and fisheries stock improvements.

Budget allocations for the industry has stood at $600,000 to $700,000 per year for the past three years as allocations keep increasing because of the interest from the public to venture into aquaculture activity.

According to the Ministry of Fisheries the budget allocations is shared between two mediums, namely freshwater and brackish water species for general administration of the aquaculture station, hatchery seedling production, farm development and monitoring, build capacity and awareness programs, research and development, monitoring and evaluation of aquaculture operations.

The ministry also highlighted the important role played by the Naduruloulou Freshwater Research Center in the Aquaculture industry as it was the largest breeding centre in the region along with two mini hatcheries at Dreketi and Ba.

According to the ministry the centres still need some improvement to a certain level since they are serving to about 450 active freshwater farmers in Fiji.

With a huge potential in Fiji — from fresh water, brackish water and marine water commodity — aquaculture is proving to be one of the main sectors for development because of rising global demands for fishery products and the over exploitation of inshore fisheries resources.

The ministry has highlighted that Fiji’s aquaculture sector is already worth several millions of dollars and has the potential and demand to grow further.

Meanwhile with the impact of climate getting stronger on coral reefs, the ministry is of the view that aquaculture on land in ponds is one option for climate change adaptation.

The Ministry of Fisheries’ role in aquaculture is primarily to support and facilitate the development of the locally available species currently being farmed, with the ministry prioritising its support to aquaculture through the development of culturing native species and locally introduced species which were previously imported.

This includes tilapia, milkfish, freshwater prawn, shrimps, bivalves, univalves and marine finfish. In addition, coastal and inland waters of Fiji have more potential for aquaculture development as recently, freshwater prawn and shrimp have aroused interest and private enterprises have taken the lead in its establishment and growth.

In response to questions on the importance of aquaculture sector in Fiji the ministry stated that although freshwater aquaculture of Fiji had shown a significant growth in the past decade, but it is concluded that problems such as inconsistency in supply of seeds, lack of technical know-how among farmers, unsuitable feed quality and high cost, poor feeding management and financial eligibility needs to be overcome so that the aquaculture development and production will be increased several times.

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