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By JESSAN DOTON
Dr Collin Shelley, a specialist in marine biology, fisheries and aquaculture, believes Fiji has a great potential to be recognised in the area of Aquaculture.
He made these comments during the Fiji Institute of Accountants Congress, which began at the Sheraton Fiji Resort, Denarau yesterday.
At a rate of 11 per cent per annum, Aquaculture is the fastest growing sector of the world food economy.
Considering Fiji’s location and its proximity and access to both sea and fresh water, as well as taking into account the low Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) for fish, aquaculture has proven to be a good business to be involved in.
The FCR for cattle is 7:1, meaning that for seven tones of feed, you can expect one tone of meat. While for fish, it is only two tonnes of feed to produce one tonne of fish.
“With wild fish populations at its peak, supply cannot satisfy the demand for seafood, and that’s why aquaculture has become such an attractive proposition on many levels, both commercially and for food security,” Dr Shelley said.
Dr Shelley said the area of aquaculture and mariculture needed to move more into development from research.
“There needs to be better development planning of mariculture within the wider process of economic development planning and/or integrated coastal management,” he said.
“As well as a greater role for the private sector as a key partner in any government or aid promoted development project,” he said, referring to the SPC mariculture review 2011.
Dr Shelley said this potential was contributed to by Fiji’s pristine tropical environment, access to freshwater and saltwater sites, the demand for seafood by local and tourist food service markets.
He said with many of the routes out of Fiji to South East Asia, the Pacific and US markets carrying fairly empty planes, this opportunity could be taken advantage of to freight over export seafood.
The mud crab farming was a testament of the success that aquaculture could have for Fiji’s market.
“The species is local, endemic and iconic, with a well developed technology, has a fast growth of two crops a year and will appeal to both the local as well as export market,” said Dr Shelley.
Other target potentials he mentioned for aquaculture and mariculture were rock lobster, beche de mer and tuna.