Providing expertise to support research and development in mariculture technologies across the Pacific

The demand for food has been increasing across the Pacific region due to growing populations and will likely continue to increase due to the impacts of climate change upon ecosystems. Exploring and developing new opportunities to enhance food security and generate income is vital for supporting our members in achieving their sustainability goals. Our aquaculture team offers expertise in mariculture: an area which has potential for increasing food production, but requires considerable research and planning to implement successfully.

People next to a sea cage for fishing

What is mariculture?

Mariculture is the farming of animals and plants in seawater, or seawater mixed with fresh water. This can be in enclosed sections of the ocean, or in tanks filled with seawater. It includes activities such as seaweed farming, marine fish farming in sea cages, pearl oyster farming, pearl production, and oyster and mussel farming. This practice can be highly labour and resource intensive, as the organisms require specific conditions to thrive. It can also require years of development to become technically and commercially viable.

How are we supporting mariculture in the Pacific Islands?

Despite being custodians of huge areas of ocean and coastal resource suitable for this activity, the Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) experience several challenges in successfully establishing commercial mariculture. Many species in the PICTs are novel and there has not been much research into their rearing, health, and marketing. The relatively distant locations, small domestic markets, and remoteness from Pacific-rim export markets for aquaculture products are further factors that pose challenges to progressing mariculture in the region.

We provide experienced technical support and assistance for mariculture research and development across the PICTs, in both the public and private sectors. Our interventions are aimed at improving production practices; we can support strategies for stock and seed production, experimental trials for novel technologies adapted to member specific situations and capacity, and design development and project management of mariculture infrastructure builds. In addition to this, we can also deliver financial analyses of mariculture techniques and technology, and assistance for biosecurity risk assessments for stock importation and produce exportation.

Further reading

Whitford J. 2021. Sea cage finfish aquaculture for Pacific Island countries and territories. SPC Fisheries Newsletter 164:22–25.