The Highlands Agriculture Experiment Station is situated about 7 km from Kainantu, Eastern Highlands Province, at an altitude of about 1 600 m above sea level. It is connected by sealed roads to the port of Lae (3 hours drive) and to Chimbu, Southern Highlands, Western Highlands and Enga Provinces as well as by unsealed roads to the port of Madang.
The fisheries section consists of ponds, which are about 1 km away from the fisheries offices, the hatchery and staff accommodation areas. What follows applies to the conditions as they were at the start of the consulting period.
The ponds are situated in a low-lying area consisting of a dark topsoil over grey or yellowish clay. Some of the unused land adjacent to the ponds is swampy in nature. Ponds have good water retention.
Water supply is by means of an open ditch. The catchment consists of a small area of partly wooded hills above the station, some residential and garden areas and some of the station's coffee plantation, with a total surface of a few square kilometers only. During the relatively wet months spent on site, the supply averaged 2–4 1/sec. Occasionally, after heavy rainfall, it would increase to more than ten times this flow for a few hours.
Pond 1 (see map 1) of about 4 900 m2, had not been used for a long time. It was overgrown with grass and swamp vegetation and could not be fully drained due to the position of the monk, so that up to 40 cm of water and mud remained in parts. The banks were sloped and in generally good condition. Around about one-third of the circumference, vertical wooden posts of 2–3 m in length had been close-set in an (apparently unnecessary) attempt to prevent erosion; these had partly rotted or fallen down.
Attached to pond 2 (about 2 400 m2) a 5 m diameter round duck house (which was being used as a tool store) had recently been built, together with a fenced walkway connecting it to the pond and an arrangement of netting on posts intended to restrict the access of ducks to about one-quarter of the pond. Banks were near-vertical in construction, grass-covered above the usual water level but severely undermined below. Old maps show a “breeders holding pond” (spawning pond) in the corner of pond 2, and a “nursery pond” (holding pond) above. These no longer existed.
Along the bottom bank of pond 3 (about 1 900 m2) and half of one long side a wall of stone-filled wire baskets had been built, giving a completely vertical bank profile, except where they had partially collapsed. Banks on the other two and a half sides were in a similar condition to those in pond 2. The spawning pond here (S on Map 2) was substantially intact.
Pond 4 (about 1 700 m2) had been completely surrounded with vertical wonden posts which were generally in good condition and produced a vertical bank profile, although in places the banks were undermined behind them. A beyond duck house (at the time unused) had been constructed attached to this pond.
Ponds 2, 3 and 4 were all in use or useable, with little or no weed growth inside. They could be drained but lacked internal drainage channels.
The three holding ponds B, C and D held water but could not be drained without pumping. Holding pond B had also been lined with stone-filled wire baskets.
A pond worker was living with his family at the pond site, as a way to discourage theft and interference. A lockable tool store below pond 2 held wheel-barrows and other tools.
Supply and drainage channels were generally in useable condition. The overall appearance of the area was quite fair, though as the grass-cutter was broken and the area large, the grass had become long in places.
A 3-room office building had recently been constructed. This contains two offices (desks, filing cabinet, telephones, collection of books and reprints, etc.) and a rudimentary laboratory (electronic balance, portable digital pH meter, Hach fish farmers' water test kit, thermometers, spring balances and some chemicals, including hormones, buffers, test kit refills, etc., though none for doing dissolved oxygen determinations).
A hatchery building had also recently been constructed. This offered a large covered space and an open fenced area. A couple of taps give a 25–30 1/min supply of water (slightly brownish but usually fairly clear) which has passed sedimentation tanks. There are a number of fibreglass tanks and aquaria, some in use for fish holding and nutrition experiments but none with flowing water. There is a good collection of hand and light power tools and some materials (timber, rigid and flexible pipes, nails and screws, broiler chicken feed, fertilizer, etc.). Equipment includes balances, a petrol-driven compressor, a 2" petrol water pump, seine nets, home-made sheet-metal conical hatchers, etc., but no electric aeration other than aquarium (diaphragm) aerators.
Fish had not been distributed to villagers or institutions since about July 1985. There were found to be around 2 500 carp fingerlings of a wide range of sizes (average 30 g) but no small fry. Fingerlings were intended for growing to consumption size together with ducks. This was to start early in 1986. Quite a lot of ripe males were found, among them a couple of dozen exceeding 200 g each. Potential female broodstock consisted of 24 fish from 350 g to 1100 g (av. 600 g). The history of these fish was not clear. Some or all had been caught about 6 months - 2 years before in a nearby river. They had been held in an earth pond together with males and fingerlings. All carp were fully-scaled, generally long-bodied, ranging in colour from red-gold through yellow to brown or grey. A few had very small or almost totally closed eyes.
There were also a small number of tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) in a tank. These had also been caught some months earlier in the river Ramu at Yonki (of which the local river is a tributary).
In addition to the Officer-in-Charge, Petrus Sagom (occupied mainly with administration) there were two fisheries technicians, Papata Toneba and George Baidam. Mr. Toneba has been at Aiyura for about ten years, the others for a little under two. All have attended fish culture training courses abroad, in the Philippines, Indonesia, S. Korea and China. There were also 7–11 labourers one of whom was concerned with the hatchery and the nutrition experiment.