The fish that we all depend on to eat and to sell to make a living are all declining. Recent studies in Kayangel and Ngarchelong has shown that over 50% of the fish being caught by fishermen have not had any chance to reproduce. If this trend continues, we might not see fish being served in our homes, funerals, ngasech or other occasion where fish plays an important role. [restrict]
Aquaculture has always been seen as part of the solution to provide fish to us. However, our exposure in the past to aquaculture has always focused on commercial scale. It is at this scale that environmental impact is difficult to minimize and control. In addition, in the past there was focus on high value species which are often technologically and economically difficult to grow. In the last 10 years, Palau shifted to focus on milkfish which has shown tremendous progress in aquaculture development in Palau. It has gone from a pilot to commercial production. More recently, in collaboration with the Taiwan Aquaculture Project (AP) in Palau, the Bureau of Marine Resources (BMR) and the Palau National Aquaculture Center has been able to produce “kelsebuul” in the hatchery. This has opened up another opportunity in fish farming that is both technologically and economically feasible in Palau for Palauans.
In an effort to ensure that this aquaculture development benefit Palau for food security and the livelihood of Palauans with the least impact to our environment, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has made aquaculture as one of its strategic priority to support biodiversity conservation that benefits the people of Palau. In collaboration with the Bureau of Marine Resources, the Taiwan Aquaculture Project (AP) and the Palau Community College Cooperative Research and Extension (PCC-CRE), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) will help to develop rabbitfish farming as a livelihood opportunity for Palauans.
As a first step to help raise awareness of the benefits of small scale aquaculture in Palau, The Nature Conservancy has developed partnership with Nabayama Aquaculture Farm to use the farm for sharing lessons on best practices in aquaculture and storm water management. The partnership will provide a natural setting for learning and developing best practices in aquaculture farming in Palau that focus on food security and livelihood. The Palau Community College and the BMR’s Palau National Aquaculture Center are key partners in this process as they each operate a hatchery. Production of rabbitfish fries is essential to ensuring that this opportunity can be sustainable. The Palau National Development Bank is a key enabler in growing the aquaculture sector through the aquaculture loan program. The opportunity is now to start growing our fish and save tomorrow’s fish. [/restrict]