2.1 Characteristics of production in the region
2.2 Regional production data
2.3 Production systems and practices in the region
2.4 Producers in the region
2.5 Organizations of producers
2.6 Financial investment by public and private enterprises
2.7 Technical assistance projects in the sub-sector
2.8 Capital assistance projects in the sub-sector
Fish culture in the Pacific island communities has been traditional for centuries. Although practising little more than careful fish husbandry, the Polynesians were observant of behaviour and understanding of the life cycles of the food fishes of the reef, particularly the mullet and the milkfish, and skilled in the construction of coastal ponds. Relics of ancient Polynesian fish ponds still exist around many islands throughout the Pacific, and some have been refurbished for modern use due to the revitalized regional interest in aquaculture. However, traditional culture relied on the natural productivity of the ponds to provide food for the fish, but modern practices require the provision of natural food or artificial feeds for maintenance -resources which are not always immediately available or cheap in remote island communities.
With few exceptions, the characteristics of aquaculture production in the region are dictated by the proximity of sparse populations living close to the sea. There are few large urban populations, and most of these are also coastal or within easy distance for the transportation of marine Fisheries products. The emphasis on aquaculture production is therefore on marine species, both fish and shellfish, due to the traditional market preferences as well as the most suitable and exploitable environment.
In spite of the large continental land mass of Australia the interior is predominantly arid. A few river systems offer potential for culture but the indigenous species are migratory, and Tasmania, because of its southerly position, has added advantages similar to New Zealand. The poor communication and transportation systems of Papua New Guinea limit development to small coastal urban areas, although the freshwater resources of the high interior encourage some rural development with selected freshwater fish. New Zealand, because of its climatic range and fast-flowing and short river systems, has an environment which encourages the greatest development for freshwater and anadromous fish, and also for shellfish on the coast.
The islands of the Pacific are characterized by three different types of environment. There are the high islands (French Polynesia, Western Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, etc.) with at times abundant freshwater resources; the low islands (American Samoa, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, etc.) with some freshwater and limited agricultural space; and the oceanic atolls (Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, etc.) with no freshwater resources and greatly exposed. The natural environments of the three island types greatly dictate their potential for development.
Finally, typical of all island communities worldwide, inter-island transportation costs are high. Consequently aquaculture production for trade has to focus on high-value products, specifically those which are peculiar to the region. Alternatively production has to focus on popular and cheap indigenous species for local markets.
The range in the region's present economic development of the aquaculture sector is reflected in the variation in both volume and type of aquaculture production between the many countries. For example, some artisanal and subsistence fish culture is practised in the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, the Kapingamarangi and Pingalap atolls of the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands; also in the rural areas of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga. Modest commercial aquaculture production of high-value fish and shellfish for organized markets within the region is limited to Australia, Guam, New Caledonia, and New Zealand. Data summarizing production of fish and shellfish for each country or territory in the region are presented in Table 4.
In both Australia and New Zealand the greatest contribution to total aquaculture production is from the culture of oysters and mussels. Commercial salmonid (trout and salmon) culture is well established in both countries. In Australia several other species are cultured including some freshwater fish, freshwater crustaceans, pearl oysters, and marine shrimp.
Production is much less in other areas of Oceania. Milkfish (Chanos chanos) and tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus, and Oreochromis niloticus primarily) are cultured in several locations. Commercial production of these species occurs primarily on Guam and in Kiribati. Most of the commercial aquaculture production of Guam is currently from the culture of tilapia and milkfish with a smaller contribution from the rearing of Asian catfish (Clarius batrachus). The culture of pearls in French Polynesia has been successful, and the industry has grown rapidly.
A list of species produced in the region is given in Table 5.
A diversity of species is cultured throughout the region in relatively small volumes. Consequently a wide variety of aquaculture practices are used, ranging from intensive and semi-intensive systems for producing salmonids and marine shrimp, to extensive systems for the culture of fish, giant clams, seaweed, and pearl oysters.
The individual practices for producing fish and crustaceans cover a wide range of technological sophistication. High-technology systems include the culture of salmon in offshore cages, which are established and expanding in both Australia (particularly in Tasmania) and New Zealand, and the culture of marine shrimp in onshore ponds at high densities (20 t per ha) in New Caledonia and French Polynesia. Less intensive practices are used in the commercial pond culture of tilapia, milkfish, and Asian catfish on Guam, and in the production of freshwater prawns and fish in Australia, French Polynesia, and a number of other islands. Subsistence level culture practices exist in Papua New Guinea for carp, in Kiribati for milkfish, in Fiji for tilapia, and in Yap proper of the Federated States of Micronesia for tilapia.
Mollusc culture methods vary among countries and territories within the region. The commercial culture of oysters in Australia and New Zealand is accomplished by stick culture, or bag cultivation on rocks. Mussels are grown attached to lines suspended from the surface. The culture of pearl shells in French Polynesia is based on collection of spat from the wild with grow-out on hanging lines. On the other hand, the methods for the culture of giant clams which are being explored at the Micronesian Mariculture Demonstration Center (MMDC) in Palau and at Honiara in the Solomon Islands, involve production of juveniles in land-based hatcheries and nurseries with the subsequent transfer of juveniles for grow-out in reef and lagoon habitats.
Within the Pacific island nations there is considerable interest in the development of culture systems suitable for application in remote locations. For example, projects aimed at development of reef and lagoon-based culture of giant clams (Tridachnidae) have been undertaken at Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, and Australia, although commercial production has not yet been achieved. Similarly, regional interest in the production of commercial seaweeds for the phycocolloid industry has been stimulated by the successful development of reef-flat culture techniques for Eucheuma in the Philippines. As cultivated seaweeds can be sun-dried, stored for extended periods and shipped by boat, seaweed cultivation is particularly suitable for development within Oceania. However, to date only limited commercial production has been achieved within the region, specifically in Fiji and Kiribati. The culture involves growing the thalli by tying them onto monofilament lines in suitable habitats. The harvested seaweed is then dried in the sun, packed, and shipped to a processor. Approximately 30 t of dried seaweed was produced in Fiji in 1985. Also applicable to remote locations, the commercial production of pearls has been successful in a number of atolls within the Tuamoto and Gambier island chains of French Polynesia.
Recent data (1986) from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicate that in Australia between one and two thousand people are engaged in oyster cultivation. There is also a large number of oyster (149) and mussel (346) producers in New Zealand. Producers of other species for consumption are relatively few, although several farms have been established both in Australia and New Zealand to produce salmon in ocean-cage systems. In New Zealand, there are 46 companies engaged in salmon culture either by means of ponds (19), ocean ranching (15), or sea-cages (12). There are a few farms in Australia producing trout, freshwater crayfish, and other freshwater fish. A well-developed pearl industry, valued at A.$ 50 million and employing approximately 300 people, exists in Western Australia.
The culture of marine shrimp is established at several locations within the region. There are 26 shrimp producers in Australia (OECD data), and other commercial shrimp farms are found in French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Fiji.
There are only a few farms currently active on Guam, and they are producing primarily tilapia and milkfish. The recent establishment of a government-owned hatchery facility is expected to relieve the constraint imposed by lack of seed for stocking, and other farms are expected to begin or resume production of freshwater prawns in the near future. A number of freshwater prawn farms which were operative several years ago on Guam had ceased operation because of the difficulties in obtaining post-larvae for stocking.
From a variety of sources, the following active commercial producers of fish and shrimp were identified within the region apart from those in Australia and New Zealand. The list is not exhaustive. In French Polynesia, Aquapec Farm, Tahiti, produces marine shrimp; as does Sodacal Shrimp Farm, Noumea, in New Caledonia, and Ravi Ravi Prawn Farm Ltd. in Fiji. In Guam Inarajan Aquaculture Enterprises, Liu Island Farm, Tsai's Farm, and Wang's Farm, all produce tilapia, milkfish, and Asian catfish. In the Marshall Islands Reimers Enterprises produces giant clams. There is also a commercial Macrobrachium (freshwater prawn) farm in the Solomon Islands.
In French Polynesia in 1986 there were 24 private companies and 91 cooperatives engaged in pearl culture in the Tuamotu-Gambier archipelago.
Most producers organize themselves into private fish farmer associations or cooperatives to avail themselves of certain benefits which are not accessible to individual farmers; for example, financial assistance from governments is often available to cooperatives but not to individuals. This is particularly true for government development projects which aim at socio-economic advancement of small-scale fish farmers in depressed rural communities. It is also more convenient for post-harvest and export market services if producers are organized into cooperatives because minimum quantities are usually required, especially for export shipments.
Although the levels of aquaculture production in the region are not large there are already a few organizations of producers. In Australia there is the Crayfish Farmers' Association, the Inland Fish Farmers of Australia, the Licensed Pearl Producers' Association, the Marron Growers' Association, and the Trout Farmers' Association. In New Zealand there is the Oyster Farmers' Association. In Guam there is the Guam Aquaculture Association.
In Tasmania (Australia) in 1987 there was the First Tasmanian Aquaculture Conference which attracted many producers as well as scientists.
Many of the large-scale aquaculture investments in the region are being funded by joint-ventures, involving both capital and technical expertise from outside the region. Funding for some projects comes from a combination of private funds and government development grants.
In Australia and New Zealand companies producing salmon and marine shrimp are increasing in number. In Australia, for example, Taiwan-Australia Prawns Pty. Ltd. has constructed a commercial hatchery and grow-out ponds for the production of the brown tiger prawn (Penaeus esculentus); another prawn venture has been started by Northern Aquaculture Research Pty. Ltd. with P. monodon. In Tasmania, salmon culture is being developed through a joint venture with private investors from Norway. Recently an Australia-China joint venture was signed for the development of an integrated farming system and for retailing the products.
In New Zealand the firm Trade Opportunities Ltd. recently purchased a 37.8 ha area at Kaipera Harbor for producing marine shrimp, and China-New Zealand joint venture (Kiwi-Sino Prawn Ltd.) is developing prawn farms.
Similar outside investments are financing aquaculture in the Pacific islands. In Palau, for example, a Hong Kong company is engaged in a project to hold groupers (Epinephalus spp.) alive in cages prior to shipment. Also in Palau, Japan is financing a pearl culture venture which is nearing commercial operation.
Of the two major commercial farms on Guam one is operated by a company from China and the other by a businessman from Taiwan.
In Fiji, French Polynesia, and New Caledonia, France's principal aquaculture agency Institut français de recherche pour l'exploitation de la mer (IFREMER) is involved in the commercial production of marine and freshwater shrimp. Investment in the SodaCal farm in New Caledonia (Noumea) is partially from IFREMER and the rest from several other sources. Similarly the Aquapac farm in French Polynesia (Tahiti) was established partially by funds invested by IFREMER. In Fiji, marine shrimp are produced through a joint venture between the Fiji Development Bank and France Aquaculture.
There have been a number of technical assistance projects for aquaculture production within the region in recent years.
In Papua New Guinea FAO provided aid in improving the subsistence culture of carp in a highlands hatchery. In Fiji volunteers from the US Peace Corps are assisting in the development of artisanal fish culture. They have distributed Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) to 23 villages in the island of Viti Levu.
In Western Samoa, CIDA and US Peace Corps volunteers are assisting in production trials for the cultivation of green mussels (Mytilus viridis). The International Foundation for Science (from Sweden) has provided funds for research on site selection and habitats for green mussel culture.
Funding for the construction of production facilities in Asia and the Pacific (which is considered as one region by the banking institutions) has been provided largely by multilateral organizations such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Most of the projects provide credit facilities to either the respective government, or to the private sector through government banks and lending institutions. In most cases credit assistance is accompanied by components of training and extension and institutional strengthening, which ensures that the loans are ultimately repaid by the sub-borrowers. However, in all cases the capital assistance projects for aquaculture have gone to Asian countries, not those of the Pacific.
No capital assistance projects relevant to investment and construction of production farms and hatcheries have been identified in the countries of the region as described. The philanthropic Skaggs Foundation provided funds for the capital construction of a giant clam hatchery in the Solomon Islands.