In 1987 during the first year of the FAO Regional South Pacific Aquaculture Development Project, I had the opportunities to visit all project countries. During those trips, inquiries on inland fish farming/stocking development potentials as subsistence aquaculture production were made by several countries, in order to supply islanders with not only a stable food fish especially during rough season when fishing was often interrupted, but also a safe food fish with no fear of ciguatera poisoning.
In response to those inquiries, in 1988 the project worked with consultants, Dr. T.Kafuku and Mr. H.Ikenoue, to identify opportunities and appropriate methods of fish farming/stocking in Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and Tonga. The consultants found potentials of milkfish culture for subsistence purposes in the region and pointed out the magnitude of its resources in the region which appeared to be probably larger than those of Southeast Asia.
It is known that milkfish is the most important species produced through aquaculture in Southeast Asia. Its production was 329,000 mt in 1985. Milkfish can grow rapidly in brackish waters by feeding on algae and phytoplankton, and this species can be cultured with low technology and low operation cost. Milkfish farming is well developed in the coastal waters of the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan where milkfish is a very important food fish.
In the Pacific region, milkfish farming is currently practiced in Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati and Palau. In Kiribati milkfish has been produced mainly as bait fish for supporting the tuna fishing industry. However, the demand for milkfish as food fish has recently appeared to increase probably because of an increase in the population and a decrease in the reef resources caused by overfishing. As one of the rural development programmes, the Government of Kiribati has been promoting to develop milkfish stocking/farming programmes in the outer islands. Milkfish stocking/farming for subsistence purpose has been also encouraged by the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia. Nauru Government is wishing to restore and develop a milkfish farming programme for subsistence purpose as well.
In the meantime, I also recognized during trips to the project countries that inland water resources (lagoons) are fairly available in many islands. These inland lagoons could well be worthwhile to be exploited for aquacultural use, particularly for fish stocking, in order to support subsistence food production for islanders during the rough season in small islands. Milkfish may be one of the best candidate species for stocking into those waters.
Because of those circumstances, the project arranged and organized a regional workshop for promoting milkfish stocking/farming in the Pacific, in collaboration with the Government of Kiribati. The workshop was co-sponsored with the United States Agency for International Development and held at Tarawa, Kiribati from 21 to 25 November 1988 in association with the Forum Fisheries Agency. The workshop participants spent a considerable time for field work, for preparation and setting of fry collection gears and demonstration of actual fry collection and packing.
I hope these proceedings will be a milestone for the milkfish culture development in the Pacific region.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to all lecturers who made devoted contributions, and to Mrs. Virginia Francis who provided a special demonstration on milkfish preparation and cooking. Thanks are also due to Mr. Marae Irata, Acting Secretary Ministry of Natural Resources and Development who willingly accepted to be the host country for this workshop, and to Mr. Tukabu Teroroko and all staff of the Kiribati Fisheries Division who kindly made all the necessary arrangements. I was indebted to the Honorable Tomasi Iuta, Minister of Natural Resources and Development of Kiribati for taking time to open and close the workshop with heartfelt speeches.
Finally, I would like to thank all co-editors made possible to publish these proceedings.
On Behalf of the Editors