The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Aquaculture Division has hailed as success a three-day workshop it organised in Honiara recently to look at the future of Tilapia and seaweed in the country.
The workshop brought together different groups of people which included representatives from the SPC, various government officials, the private sector, the provincial governments, seaweed buyers and exporters, director of Vocational Rural Training Centres, seaweed and Tilapia farmers.
Undersecretary Corporate Services Mr Patteson Lusi in his opening remarks said the key objective of the workshop is to provide a forum for all participants to discuss and share their experience with the view to develop frameworks for sustainable management and development of seaweed and tilapia aquaculture.
He acknowledged that the culture of Tilapia and Seaweed has contributed to national fish protein, employment and livelihoods. Additionally, aquaculture also contributes towards growing of the national economy.
“Indeed a positive relationship has been established between the level of income per capita and the culture of tilapia and seaweed. Coastal and Inland Aquaculture contributes to social economic activities and play and important role in food nutrition and improving the standard of living in rural communities,” he said.
But despite of the progress made so far, the private sector, stakeholders and communities have yet to fully exploit their potential in commercial aquaculture.
Low participation from private sector, high economic vulnerability due to small population and income levels, various market barriers and conducive policy frameworks have contributed to the slow progress.
Other factors including high transportation and start-up costs also contributed to the slow growth of aquaculture locally.
The Undersecretary Mr Lusi said Mozambique tilapia has been cultured since the early 1960s for food security, but for now the culture of this wild tilapia is no longer viable option for commercial farming because of high production cost, slow growth and small sizes are the major challenges farmers have experienced.
“It is time we introduce as better tilapia strain that is viable to culture and can bring in cash income to farmers. Fish protein from improved tilapia species can be distributed to consumers in a sustainable manner,” he said.
The cabinet has already given its approval for the introduction of the GIFT Tilapia for inland aquaculture development in 2017.
And because of this approval, the National Tilapia Action Plan must be reviewed and updated to meet the current developmental needs, Mr Lusi said.
He told the participant of the workshop that GIFT Tilapia will be introduced for development trials when the new hatchery and quarantine facility at Aruligo is completed.
Work on the facility has already started.
The three-day workshop also looked at seaweed as the other important commodity that should be developed extensively in the provinces.
Seaweed farming in Solomon Islands started in the 1980s and today about 600 plus farmers have engaged on farming in various provinces.
Mr Lusi said the Ministry of Fisheries recognises the significant contribution of seaweed culture to livelihood and income generation thus the need for a framework to guide its management.
“Our ultimate aim is to develop a framework that creates an enabling environment that will assist stakeholders and all Solomon Islanders to expand seaweed and tilapia culture.