Harrison Selmen wrote this article, Fish farming a growing interest for farmers for Vanuatu Daily Post on 2/25/13. This is a shout out for their new aquaculture program, educating and supporting locals in raising tilapia fish. The figures are confusing to me and would require research and confirmation to be reliable. They show there has been an increase in the past year from ½ ton tilapia from 8 farmers (including the Vanuatu Agriculture College (VAC)) to 2 ½ tons from 16 farmers. Kudos go out to the VAC, Technical Vocational Educational and Training (TVET) school, SPC (Sanma Province Community?), partner Communities (not sure who these are), Climate Change (again unsure what this is) and the farmers.
While delight is expressed by Alo, the aquaculture officer in Luganville, over the growing high interest achieved, the success in meeting government objectives for income generation, food security (while relieving fishing pressures from rivers and the reef) showed successful adoption of fisheries resource management was the most important achievement.
The Fisheries Department in Luganville and the VAC will fund the program for helping locals setup backyard farms. Alo’s aquaculture office has pledged to support at least 30 additional farmers by purchasing pond materials, feeds and providing technical advice.
That the farms are providing relief on the rivers and the reef indicates there has been declining wild Tilapia. This seems to be an ideal situation as they recover. The local fishermen will feel the impact to their personal revenue; however, the new farmers will support the local economy by providing the fish for consumption until sustainable practices can be resumed in the reef and rivers.
It is unclear by this article whether the farms are integrated into agricultural production by using waste products from domesticated animals to fertilize the water and produce fish food. That they are tilapia would indicate this is so.
Because the ponds are inland there is no threat of competition or mating with wild stock. The location prevents escape into the rivers and reef. The article also does not discuss if the tilapia are genetically modified, or how the waste is handled or the life expectancy of the ponds.
The article does suggest expected growth of this practice, so these environmental concerns must be addressed if they have not already. I appreciate the positive note of the article and the involvement of a fisheries manager as well as the school setup to educate before support is provided. Overall, this practice can allow time for local reef and river recovery while ensuring healthy local economies.