Honorable Tomasi Iuta
Minister of Natural Resources and Development
To all course participants and resources personnel
I hope that during this past week you have learned more about milkfish then any other fish that you know within your locality. Perhaps this is not a bad introduction to the world of milkfish. After all milkfish, or “TE BANEAWA” in the I-KIRIBATI language, has a very important place in our culture. It is a speciality that you find on the menu only at an important feast. It holds this place of importance because of its fatty taste and, perhaps, because of its domestication. In this sense, milkfish is like pork or chicken, food animals reared for special occasions.
To those of you who are new to rearing milkfish, what you have learned this past week will now enable you to grow milkfish in a way more scientific than you have ever done before. I hope that this will enhance the production and taste of your future milkfish, so that you can say to yourself: “I have achieved something from that workshop in Tarawa”.
As I said in my opening remarks, you are very fortunate to have so many distinguished experts on milkfish culture come and lead your discussions on the many aspects of rearing milkfish in ponds.
Now that you have successfully completed the workshop, it is up to you to apply what you have learned here to your own situation and requirements.
I know that your friends, families, your councils and even your governments will be expecting you to help them further their understanding on the culture of milkfish. Please do this with enthusiasm, and pass on to them what you have learned here.
I do not know why this fish is called milkfish. Perhaps you have been given the reason in your workshop. I do know that fish is the source of life to a newborn mammal. Therefore, with my limited knowledge of the milkfish, all I can think is that if milkfish are bred to produce more eggs, the eggs are looked after to develop into healthy fry, and the fry farmed to full grown fish, then no doubt the milkfish will be the main source of livelihood to our ever-increasing population.
Now that you understand more of the life cycle and habits of the milkfish you will be capable of making such expectations become reality. I wish you success in your work.
I want to thank the workshop leaders for their willingness to come all the way to Tarawa to assist our people, and those from our Pacific Islands neighbors, for their interest in learning more about the culturing of milkfish.
Many thanks too to the agencies who have agreed to sponsor this workshop, for they have been responsive to our need.
To all the participants, I hope that you show your appreciation of the generosity of the funding agencies together with the help of your governments, and of the hard work that has been put into this workshop by the visiting experts by not forgetting what you have learned here but by going forth and applying it to the advantage of your people and country.
I wish also to take this opportunity to thank my staff for the tremendous effort they made in organizing the logistics that have helped this workshop run smoothly. If there have been any shortcomings that our visitors have found, please accept our apologies for those oversights. I can assure you that it was uppermost in our minds to try to make your short stay with us as pleasant as possible within our means. So if you have been given reason to feel otherwise please understand that it was an unintentional slip on our part.
On behalf of the people and governments of Kiribati, I wish to thank you once again for coming, and to wish you a safe journey back home to your loved ones.
As the festive season will soon be upon us, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very prosperous 1989, particularly with milkfish culturing.
It is now my duty and honor to declare this workshop officially closed. In closing, I want to offer each one of you our traditional blessing:
TE MAURI, TE RAOI AO TE TABOMOA.