The ceremony was attended by Vanuatu’s Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Biosecurity, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon Matai Seremaia; Minister for Infrastructure and Public Utility, the Hon Jotham Napat; Director of Fisheries, Kalo Pakoa; Acting Director of the National Disaster Management Office, Peter Korisa, and the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Director of Fisheries Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division, Moses Amos.
Under a grant agreement signed between the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and SPC for cocoa and fisheries rehabilitation in Vanuatu, funding of VUV 35,407,908 was made available to rehabilitate the Vanuatu Fisheries Department’s infrastructure, such as government hatcheries, and community aquaculture farms damaged by the category five cyclone.
“Since the devastation of cyclone Pam, one of the key priorities for the Vanuatu Government has been food security for the Vanuatu people. Aquaculture, particularly on a small scale for inland freshwater communities, is a primary production sector that can contribute immensely to putting food on the table,” Mr Amos said.
“The rehabilitated centre will also serve as the national brood stock centre for freshwater aquaculture species, such as prawns and tilapia. It provides the opportunity for research in areas such as finding the aquaculture feeds most suitable to Vanuatu conditions,” Mr Amos added.
The rehabilitation work to the Department of Fisheries Centre included rebuilding the national freshwater hatchery building which houses fish breeding tanks, office space and a conference room.
Earthen fish and prawn ponds were repaired and expanded from an experimental scale to commercial scale and large outdoor culture tanks were also installed for breeding and growing fish fingerlings.
The increased capacity of the new facility will also enable the Department of Fisheries to mass produce freshwater tilapia and prawn fingerlings to be distributed to community farmers for grow-out to harvestable size in four months.
Work is still under way for the rehabilitation of the second freshwater hatchery on Santo Island, with support from SPC, and this is expected to cost around VUV 3 million and will be completed in August this year.