With its vast coastline and rich marine resources, the Solomon Islands have long relied on fishing as a major source of livelihood and sustenance.
However, the rapidly growing population and the increasing demand for fish have put immense pressure on the already fragile marine ecosystem, leading to overfishing and the depletion of fish stocks in local fisheries.
In his keynote address at the Guadalcanal Province Second Appointed Day in early August, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare recognized the urgent need to address these pressing issues and promote sustainable fishing practices.
He emphasized the significance of aquaculture as a solution to this problem, pointing to aquaculture’s ‘predictability to harvest’.
“It allows for precise control over the environment, feed, and breeding conditions, resulting in more predictable and consistent harvests compared to wild fisheries, which can be subject to natural fluctuations,” Sogavare said.
Supplementing wild fish catch
In terms of food security, Sogavare said aquaculture could play a crucial role in meeting the growing domestic and global demand for seafood.
“It will help to supplement wild-caught fish, which have faced declining stocks due to overfishing and habitat degradation. By breeding and raising fish in controlled environments, it reduces pressure on wild fish populations and supports ecosystem conservation,” the Prime Minister said.
“Aquaculture reduces the need for excessive fishing of wild species, allowing fish stocks to recover and maintain their natural balance,” he added.
The New Zealand and Solomon Islands government-funded Aruligo Aquaculture fish farm, located in Northwest Guadalcanal, was specifically mentioned by the Prime Minister as a model to be embraced by the local communities. According to the government, this fish farm represents a prime example of sustainable fishing practices and serves as a beacon of hope for the future of fishing in Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands as a whole.
“This [Aruligo Aquaculture Fish Farm] is the major policy of the government that is being implemented on Guadalcanal. More than SBD$10 million dollars (USD$1.1 million) have been spent so far in developing this sector on Guadalcanal,” Prime Minister Sogavare said.
“The Aruligo Fisheries facility is moving into its productive phase and will soon become fully operational. Guadalcanal Province must take partnership with this undertaking as Aquaculture is promising economic activity that will help boost our economy in the years ahead.”
The Aruligo Aquaculture fish farm could serve as a learning center for the people of Guadalcanal, providing them with the necessary knowledge and skills to establish their own fish farms. By adopting these methods, the local communities can not only ensure a steady supply of fish but also contribute to the economic growth of the region.
Sogavare said, “This particular fishery [aquaculture] will breed innovation and research, a trait that we [the government] want to instill within any of our development aspirations.
“The industry encourages research and innovation in areas like fish health, nutrition, and environmental sustainability, which can have broader applications in marine science and biology.”
While the Prime Minister noted the numerous advantages of aquaculture, he is also cautious that there are challenges, including environmental impacts, disease management, and social concerns.
Therefore, he pointed out, sustainable and responsible practices and regulations must be adopted to ensure the long-term viability of this important industry.