FAO Sub-Regional Office for the Pacific Islands
Although the nation hosts an abundance of resources conducive to aquaculture, there is no tradition of aquaculture in Vanuatu. In the last few decades, Vanuatu fisheries has been involved in researching and developing several potential aquaculture species such as giant clams, trochus, green snails, and Kappaphycus seaweed, with limited success. Commercial aquaculture ventures in Vanuatu have only recently emerged, mainly Mriven by interests from the private sector.
Mr Felix Nguyen, Senior Fisheries Officer of Vanuatu's Department of Fisheries, was awarded the FAO World Food Day Medal 2005, as the model farmer during the World Food Day celebration held at the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand, in 17 October 2005. He has been working with the Department of Fisheries since 1986 and has been involved in several aquaculture research projects.
Following the FAO study in November 2003, on the potential of farming tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) in Vanuatu, and with assistance from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Mr Nguyen started a freshwater aquaculture demonstration farm in Erapo in 2004. The farm consists of two ponds, 1000 m2 each. Tilapia fry (GIFT - Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia - Oreochromis niloticus) was imported from Fiji, and successfully grown to maturity. At harvest, fish sizes ranged between 400 – 800 g. Some fish retained as broodstock now weigh well over 1,000g. Tilapia was well received by local consumers who are very eagerly waiting for the next harvest, expected later in December 2005.
Declining marine fish supplies, occurrences of ciguatera poisoning in reef fish and increasing fish retail prices are necessitating the need to find alternatives. Aquacultured fish such as tilapia is expected to serve as a safer and cheaper alternative, particularly for inland communities. The retail price of tilapia in Vanuatu is expected to be around U$5.00 per kilogram.
There is an immense interest by many ni-Vanuatu to embark on tilapia as well as freshwater prawn aquaculture, however, the current impediment is non-availability of feed. Mr Nyugen now prepares his own feed from locally available materials using a small kava grinding machine. At this stage, the feeding requirements of the fish at the demonstration farms are sufficently supplied; however, in order to cater for more tilapia farms, there is a need for a larger feed preparation and production plant. Funding and technical assistance is being sought in this area, and it is hoped that by overcoming this limitation, many ni-Vanuatu will venture into freshwater aquaculture activities.
FAO congratulates Mr Nguyen for his hard efforts in initiating freshwater aquaculture activities in Vanuatu, and his contributions towards building sustainable livelihoods and food security for rural communities living on the remote islands of Vanuatu.
FAO Regional Office for Asia and The Pacific
FAO World Food Day Acelebration - Award Ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand (2nd from left: Mr He, Assistant Director-General of FAO and Regional Representative of the FAO Regional Office for the Asia and the Pacific, 3rd from left: Mr Nguyen, middle: Her Royal Highness Maha Chakri Sivindhorn)