P.R. - The first harvest of tilapia fish will take place this Thursday from fish culture cages being trialled at Satoalepai in Savaii.
These fish have been raised in net cages with daily feeding and care by the village fish farm committee, under the guidance of Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries staff working in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (S.P.C).
The trial is part of a four-year project on improving community based aquaculture in Samoa, funded by Aus-AID through the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (A.C.I.A.R). It is the first time that open-water cage culture of fish has been tried in Samoa.
The project is mainly focussed on improving tilapia aquaculture in Samoa. This is in response to the Fisheries Division’s current Aquaculture Management and Development Plan (2013-2018) which has accorded tilapia a priority in terms of food security and development of potential commercial expansion due to the increasing demand for this fish in the local markets including hotels and restaurants.
While demand for tilapia as a food fish in Samoa is increasing, current production is affected by a lack of consistency in supply by the Fisheries Division’s freshwater hatchery to farmers, gaps in knowledge about tilapia husbandry by present and newcomer fish farmers, and lack of proper fish feed for the tilapia.
Therefore, this project aims to develop profitable aquaculture systems which result in improvement in value of aquaculture production in formal and informal economies, improved nutrition and livelihoods for people through access to aquaculture technologies and management systems that would deliver meaningful benefits.
Since the project’s inception, one of its activities was setting up cage culturing of tilapia at the village of Satoalepai, Savaii in November 2015. After 6-8 months, the fishes have reached their plate size of an average weight of 200-250g.
Therefore, the Fisheries Division staff in negotiations with the village mayor together with the project team from S.P.C., Tim Pickering and Beero Tioti, set the date for harvesting in August 2016. This is one of the project milestones in achieving its goal of improvement technologies and increase livelihoods for the people of Samoa.
The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries; La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt would like to acknowledge the technical support from the S.P.C. Aquaculture team which made this work successful and possible to promote the development of tilapia farming in Samoa.
The Ministry is also grateful for the funding support from the A.C.I.A.R.. Having addressed the key constraint areas affecting the development of tilapia aquaculture in Samoa, this should help improve the efficiency in tilapia aquaculture by individuals and village farmers as well as improving the capacity of local expertise in proper tilapia farming.