Field Technical Paper No. 2/1996
COMMERCIAL SPONGE SURVEY IN KIRIBATI AND SPONGE FARMING DEVELOPMENT IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC
RICHARD A. CROFT
Prepared for the
Ministry of Environment and
Natural Resource Development,
Government of Kiribati
Since shipping costs to the major markets from the Pacific Islands is considerably high, the selection of commodities is a key issue for the success of export-oriented aquaculture development. Marine sponge is a unique reef animal and has been well utilised for human life as a bath sponge since ancient time. Today, natural sponges are widely exploited for cosmetic and medical uses, printing industry, space industry etc. Shipping of dried sponges is quite easy and its cost is cheaper. Marine sponge can be a promising commodity for facilitating the island economic development. In the South Pacific region, marine sponge was actually being cultured in the Micronesian area before WW II through Japanese initiative. This was terminated by the outbreak of war. After a half century, however, this practice was revived in 1984 by Mr.Richard Croft in the Pohnpei State of the Federated States of Micronesia. In the beginning of our project activities in 1987, I approached Mr. Croft to support this programme. Through his knowledge and experience gained since then, I re-confirmed the potential for commercial sponge farming in the region.
When the second phase of the South Pacific Aquaculture Development Project (SPADP) was launched in 1994, our project received a request for a feasibility study of commercial sponge survey from Kiribati. The refinement of the promising potential found during the first phase project time is one of the major activities of the second phase project. Therefore, I approached Mr.Croft again, but this time to carry out the study in Kiribati. This report provides not only the findings of the Kiribati survey, but also a review of sponge farming development in the region. I hope this will be a useful material not only for the Kiribati people, but also for the region as a whole. On behalf of the SPADP, I would like to thank Mr. Richard Croft for surveying in Kiribati as well as for bringing out this additional material.
Chief Technical Adviser
SOUTH PACIFIC AQUACULTURE DEVELOPMENT PROJECT (PHASE II)
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
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I. COMMERCIAL SPONGE SURVEY IN KIRIBATI
Map Showing the Four Atolls Surveyed
Map Showing Survey Sites at the Four Atolls
2. Kiribati Sponge Survey
3. Conclusions and Recommendations
II. SPONGE FARMING DEVELOPMENT IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC
1. Sponge Survey History and Background
2. Sponge Farming Techniques
3. Sponge Farming Constraints