The main activity of the Aquaculture unit is to work closely with local communities in all aquaculture related activities to help develop new income generating activities. This would then help achieve one of the Fisheries Division Objective in trying to manage the coastal fisheries resources by diversifying the fishing pressure on coastal resources to Aquaculture activities
The main objectives of the unit are to:
- Promote sustainable aquaculture development suitable for Kiribati context
- Revival of Potential outer island milkfish fishponds by providing milkfish fries
- Carry out research activities on potential aquaculture species
- Introduction of potential aquaculture species suitable for aquaculture development
- Carry out restocking and enhancement program to important commercial species of concern
Giant clam spawning and community farming
Two successful spawning were carried out in 2012 and 2013 resulting in around 1500 baby clams. The aim of this spawning activity is to restock the depleted reefs around Tarawa and to assist the Atoll Beauties in the giant clam community farming.
The Giant clam community farming is also another activity this unit is actively involved in. Learning form the successful result in Ribono village in Abaiang the FD worked in collaboration with the private company Atoll Beauties in establishing another farm in Tabontebike and has extended to Kabuna in Tab North, Abatiku in Abemama and Bikati in Butaritari. The setting up of these community farming was done in late 2013 and early 2013.
The purchase of clams from the local community was left to the Atoll Beauties. Abatiku and Bikati farmers has successfully raised and sell their clams back to the Atoll Beauties however due to some unforeseen issues with the company the supply of seed clams was ceased. Kabuna farmers on the other hand were not able to sell the clams due to the difficulties of the company to secure flight with the Air Kiribati.
Reintroduction of Seaweed new strain (Maumere strain)
Tabuaeran is the main seaweed producing island and currently represent about 95% of the tota production in Kiribati. In the Gilbert group seaweed production was very active in the late 90s to early 2000 however the production fell dramatically due to the unfavorable weather condition resulted by the El Nino. To revive the seaweed in the Gilbert group a new strain of seaweed (Mamure strain) was reintroduced in 2012. This strain was better adapted to heat stress and has shown promising growth results in Ambo, Abaiang and Aranuka.
Similar strain was introduced to Kiritimati last year and it is anticipated that the new strain will reach Tabuaeran sometimes this year.
Currently there are two seaweed projects ongoing. The Dversification and Revitalization of seaweed Industry in the Pacific Islands by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Revitalization of Seaweed Farming sector in Kiribati Island by FAO.
The ACIAR project activity includes:
- Monitoring / testing water quality of Seaweed experimental sites in Ambo and Abarao ( still in progress)
- Revitalizing seaweed farming sector (kappaphycus alverezii, maumere strain) in Abaiang and other potential islands in Kiribati. (still in progress)
- Diversifying seaweed species such as acanthophora, etc for doing compost pot trial 4 (to be implemented soon with Agriculture research at MELAD).
- Planting food crops by using compost 3 (to be started soon).
- To expand doing seaweed composts at community levels (to be considered)
- Ongoing seaweed collection (acanthophora) for doing research activities.
The FAO project on the other hand is looking at:
- Assessment report for two main targeted islands (Abaiang and Kiritimati) performed by Indonesian experts has been completed and now ready to distribute to stakeholders such as MFMRD, CPPL, Island councils and farmers, etc. The report will print for future reference.
- Materials (ropes, raffia, sledge hammer and crow bars) to be sent to Abaiang and Kiritimati/ Tabuaeran. Ropes (20 coils of 6mm and 20 coils of 4mm) for Kiritimati and Tabuaeran have been transported by Mv Moamoa. Materials like ropes (20 coils of 6mm and 20 coils of 4mm) for Abaiang will be transported by boat (Namako) next week. The rest of the materials have been ordered by the supplier in Fiji (Manubhai Ltd in Suva) and expected to be arrived soon this month by Fiji Airways. FAs are to be given these materials to distribute to their farmers.
- Sending seaweed seedlings (kappaphycus alverezii and maumere strain) to main targeted islands and other potential islands in Kiribati.
- To revitalize seaweed farming sector to increase seaweed production in the Gilbert and Line islands. To encourage people to start cultivating seaweed.
- The Project will end by June 2016.
The future plan is to revive and expand the seaweed farming to all interested farmers in Tarawa and the outer islands to support the diversification of seaweed farming in local communities.
Introduction of Sandfish sea cucumber
Sandfish sea cucumber was introduced from Fiji in early 2013 for the sandfish enhancement program. This is a new and interesting program since it is the first of its kind in the region. The aim of the introduction is to trail out sandfish spawning for the community farming using sea pens. Once successful this could provide another income generating activity for local communities.
The activity has attracted the interest of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and has recruited one project officer to take on the project. To date the 3 successful spawning run has been conducted. However due to high mortality during the settlement only a handful of juveniles were obtained during the first run. The first and second run has resulted in about 300 juvenile which have been trialed out in Tabuki, North Tarawa (Broken bridge) and Eco Farm. The third spawning run was done last month and the juveniles would be used to trail out a community farming in Abaiang.
Current activities and work program
- Sandfish juvenile feeding and rearing
- Weekly monitoring of released sandfish juveniles in North Tarawa and the Eco Farm
- Maintaining and monitoring of sandfish broodstock in captivity and sea pen in the EcoFarm
- Expansion of seaweed farming to interested farmers in Tarawa
- Milkfish pond improvement work to the identified islands
- Supplying of milkfish fingerlings to the outer islands to assist in reviving the outer island ponds
- Assist the Eco Farm in finding solutions to improve their current level of production
Focus for the next 4 years
- Expansion of sandfish community trail farming to local farmers in Abaiang and other potential islands
- Continue the sandfish spawning run to supply juveniles to local communities
- Cage farming of Milkfish for baitfish production targeting KFL longline vessels by the Improvement of EcoFarm milkfish production, improving potential outer island milkfish ponds and the introduction of milkfish cage culture trail to the local communities
- Expansion of seaweed and clam farming to interested farmers and
- Supplying of milkfish fingerlings to the outer islands to support food security