Mariculture development in New Ireland, Papua New Guinea - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Mariculture development in New Ireland, Papua New Guinea

This project is providing a sustainable basis for the development of a marine aquaculture or mariculture sector in PNG. Research will build capacity, support industry development, improve local livelihoods and increase export earnings.

  • assess Pacific and SE Asia sea cucumber culture techniques in PNG
  • determine whether profitable oyster culture can be developed in PNG
  • build sustainability into the existing aquarium trade through identification of high-value reef fish species and techniques to support captive breeding

Work is also contributing to improving long-term government, non-government and local-community mariculture capacity. Partners include the National Fisheries Authority (NFA), the National Fisheries College Kavieng (NFC) and PNG University of Natural Resources and Environment, provincial fisheries, and several partner communities and NGOs.

Coastal villages find new hope through mariculture

The vast PNG coastline supports many communities who depend primarily on marine resources. Its coastal environment and fish stocks are comparatively healthy, but beyond the immediate resource, communities do not maximise potential economic and livelihood opportunities.

Depletion of some fishery resources in recent years has had detrimental impacts on coastal livelihoods. The collapse of the village-based sea cucumber fishery, which generated strong export income, has been significant. In response, the NFA implemented a nationwide moratorium on sea cucumber fisheries.

Alternative economic activities are vital for PNG. Coastal communities do not have a tradition of mariculture, so awareness of possibilities is low. However, mariculture development can now be strengthened by the new NFA Nago Island Mariculture and Research Facility.

The facility will support research and marine-aquaculture-based livelihood development, and will become a training centre for NFC students. With USC support, the region can build industry capacity, and identify local species to help create strong and sustainable mariculture industries.

Experimental sea cucumber hatcheries performing well in PNG

Bêche-de-mer is the dried form of a sea cucumber that is in high demand in SE Asia for its nutritional value and perceived medicinal properties, fetching more than $200 per kilo. However, over fishing has been a problem in PNG in recent years.

A fishing moratorium in 2009 had significant livelihood impacts on coastal communities and PNG‘s broader economy. Work by the USC Tropical Aquaculture team is enabling local communities to develop and manage their own sea cucumber production.

Experimental community-based sea cucumber farms have achieved high growth rates and local people are working with USC to identify and develop new livelihood and business opportunities.