According to Simon Ellis, director of MERIP Micronesia, over-fishing is depleting natural resources in Micronesia and other parts of the Pacific, creating a clear need to develop alternatives for the economy and food security for fishing communities.
Sustainable, capture-based aquaculture and hatchery rearing methods of Rabbitfish hold promise not only for fisheries management and coral reef conservation, but also for rural aquaculture livelihoods and nutrition. Thirteen species of Rabbitfish can be found in Micronesia, some with traits making them suitable for aquaculture. Those desirable traits include fast growth, schooling behavior, non-aggressive behavior, tolerance of changing temperatures and salinity, tolerance of poor water quality, and good feed conversion.
Understanding this potential for sustainable development, Ellis designed a Professional Development Program project aimed toward expanding rabbitfish aquaculture in the Pacific Islands. The highly collaborative project shares information and resources with agriculture/aquaculture professionals, extension agents, private sector aquaculture entrepreneurs, and sustainable development NGOs in the Micronesia region. The project covers two islands in the Federated States of Micronesia (Kosrae and Pohnpei) and one island in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (Majuro).
The project includes a four-day training at MERIP, a study tour for three personnel to Hawaii to train in marine fish hatchery techniques, and an easy to read pictorial manual on raising rabbitfish.
Ellis is excited about an unexpected outcome of the project.
“The workshop led to a very positive collaboration with the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Hawaii Sea Grant. Personnel from these agencies attended the workshop in June 2018. As a result, a collaborative extension publication has been produced from this work. A further more detailed publication is also a potential outcome of this collaboration.”
Download the Extension Publication
(photo by Andrea Seale)