Emphasis on aquaculture

Members of the ACIAR delegation being briefed by principal fisheries officer Shailendra Singh prior to their tour of the fish hatchery in Galoa last week. Picture: ATU RASEA

PRINCIPAL fisheries officer Shailendra Singh told members of the visiting Agricultural Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) delegation that the Fijian Government has placed a lot of emphasis on aquaculture.

“You might ask why because Fiji is so blessed with so much natural resources; we’ve got the third largest reef system in the world, the Great Sea Reef, then why are we placing so much emphasis on aquaculture, well the reality is our fish stock is declining because of overfishing, poaching, pollution and climate change,” Mr Singh said.

He made the comments while briefing the members of the ACIAR delegation last Tuesday at the Galoa Fisheries Station’s fish hatchery.

“Aquaculture for Fiji means food security, poverty reduction and import substitution.

“So keeping this in mind this fish hatchery was built for the purpose of providing support services to our farmers, it’s a hatchery so we are giving hatchery produce, juveniles of fish or prawns to farmers to farm,” he said.

Mr Singh said ACIAR had funded their FIS 2005/108 project in mid-2008.

“This ACIAR-funded program was based on importing the strain of our main cultured species of freshwater prawns.

“This project was very timely; the project from 2008 to 2011 had three strains of freshwater prawns bought from Malaysia and Indonesia so ACIAR helped us obtain the strain which was best suited for Fiji’s conditions.

“And from 2011 to 2018 we’ve been using this particular strain and had been producing good results,” Mr Singh said.

He said this was helping out with a lot of their farmers and they have been able to improve their incomes and their lifestyles.

The ACIAR team took a tour of the hatchery and the fish and prawn ponds before retiring for a traditional Fijian lunch at The Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour.

The ACIAR 23-member delegation included the Australian High Commissioner, John Feakes, and the ACIAR chief executive officer Professor Andrew Campbell.