$24m shrimp import bill

King Prawns Fiji Farm Manager Thushara Sampat shows the prawns harvested from one of their ponds during the Western Shrimp Summit on the Cultivation of Tiger Prawns in Lomawai Sigatoka. Picture: REINAL CHAND

FIJI imports 700 tonnes of shrimps at a total cost of about $24 million annually, says Fisheries Minister Semi Koroilavesau.

Speaking at the Western Shrimp Conference in Lomawai, Sigatoka, yesterday, he emphasised the need to reduce the import bill by increasing local production.

“Prawn or shrimp is one of the most commonly farmed species in the world,” he said.

“It is also one of high value and is commonly traded for the hotel and tourism sector. “That is why, it is important we work together to try and address one of our biggest challenges.

“This is to try to reduce Fiji’s import bill by promoting locally grown prawns and other viable cultured fish to achieve import substitution.”

At present, only two commercial shrimp farmers exist in Fiji and Mr Koroilavesau said they were open to working with foreign investors to boost the industry.

“Aquaculture is a growing sector in Fiji and has the potential to develop as one of the key areas in the fisheries sector if thoroughly explored and capitalised.

“While aquaculture is a key sector for food security, it also contributes to improving livelihoods and boosting fishery exports while reducing imports.”

He said this would also enable resource conservation as it relieved pressure on overexploited inshore capture fisheries resources.

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