The human inhabitants of Solomon Islands, like many Pacific islands, are heavily reliant on coastal fisheries for food. With increasing human population, there is concern that capture fisheries will not be able to continue to meet demand. Development of aquaculture for species such as milkfish has been suggested as a potential mitigation for this deficit. However, as a recently published report on a four-year study, led by Dr Reuben Sulu (WorldFish) demonstrates, the feasibility of developing a milkfish aquaculture industry on the Islands goes beyond technical issues.

Milkfish in a market in New Zealand. Credit Bernard Spragg. NZ/Flickr (CC0 1.0)

Milkfish in a market in New Zealand. Credit Bernard Spragg. NZ/Flickr (CC0 1.0)

Found in Solomon Island waters, milkfish has been popular with a number of Island communities. With milkfish possessing a number of aquaculture-favourable characteristics such as fast growth rates and their invertebrate and algal based die, it is unsurprising that aquaculture of milkfish has garnered attention by small-scale farmers, and those interested in larger commercial development.

 

Ideally milkfish aquaculture would rely on hatchery-production of fry. Unfortunately, due to the financial costs of running such facilities, the government-led National Aquaculture Development Plan (2009–2014) noted that hatchery development “is not presently envisaged”. Fortunately for those interested in milkfish aquaculture, Dr Sulu and colleagues demonstrated that milkfish fry is available Solomon Island waters, and that this fry can be successfully reared to a harvestable size with technology and resources available locally.

This article was written for (and can be read in full at) The Fish Site.