Food fish

  • Name of species:
    Food fish includes all marine and freshwater fish produced for human consumption. Some food fish with major commercial importance in the Pacific are carp, tilapia, milkfish and grouper. · Rabbitfish (Siganus spp.), barramundi (Lates calcarifer), batfish (Platax spp.), threadfin salmon (Polydactylus spp.), snapper (Lutjanus sp.) and other species are currently being trialled or farmed commercially in the Pacific region.
  • Primary potential:
    Food for domestic consumption or high-value export market.
  • Attributes for aquaculture/stock enhancement :
    · High demand in export or local markets
    · Tropical food fish have high growth rates compared to temperate fish species
    · Most of these species' wild stocks are under threat, which is increasing market demand for them
    · The Pacific has broodstock locally available in most cases
    · Some local species of food fish have high traditional customary values associated with them



    · Although some fish can be captured using post larval trapping devices, this commodity is most often sourced from hatchery-reared fingerlings

    · Hatchery rearing of marine food fish involves the production of live feed, which is fed to the fish through the larval stages. Hatcheries may be set up with micro-algae production or live zooplankton production involving the culture of rotifers, artemias and sometime copepods. This varies according to the species' requirements· Fish are weaned (within 20-40 days depending on the species) to artificial diets as they develop into post larvae. The nursery stage starts after this



    · The nursery stage usually happens on land. The fish are grown to 2-6 grams on average before they are sold or transferred to grow-out farms
    · Variability in growth during the nursery phase will greatly affect the survival of the juvenile fish. Fingerlings are graded as often as once a week (depending on the species) in order to increase the homogeneity of the batches; this improves growth and survival



    · Most marine food fish are grown out in net cages
    · Site selection is the key issue for a successful net cage farm. There are usually many suitable sites, but environmental hazards such as cyclones and tropical storms can cause great damage to offshore cage farms
    · Sea cages can be low or high technology according to production targets, whether in small-scale village farming or large commercial operations.· Most marine food fish, including grouper, are grown out using artificial diets (pellets). However, in some parts of the world, such as Asia, they are fed a less superior diet of 'trash fish' (a general term referring to shoals of baitfish or schooling juveniles)

  • Culture methods :
  • Current production status :

    · Marine food fish is a new, developing commodity in the region. There are only a few commercial operations in the region, such as the barramundi farms in Papua New Guinea and French Polynesia

    · Most of the current food fish operations in the region are under research and development status or are close to full commercialization (for example, rabbitfish farming in New Caledonia). In French Polynesia, a lagoon fish hatchery project is currently in progress at the IFREMER station; target species are threadfin salmon or 'moi' (Polydactylus sexfilis) and batfish or 'paraha peue' (Platax orbicularis)

    · Some food fish hatchery projects are currently under development, such as those in the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and New Caledonia. These hatcheries aim to target high-value local species such as grouper (Epinephelus spp., Plectropomus spp.) and snapper

  • Marketing :
    · The market for food fish in the Pacific can be local or export. Rabbitfish in New Caledonia (known as pico) and threadfin salmon and batfish in French Polynesia are mostly dedicated to local markets and/or restaurants

    · Barramundi in Papua New Guinea is an export commodity. There are well-established markets for barramundi in Australia and Southeast Asia and PNG is strategically placed between these

    · The majority of other food fish being investigated around the region are export commodities. There is a small local market for the tourism and restaurant trade, but the highest values are reached on the Asian live reef fish markets, where fish can be sold for up to USD100 per kilogram

  • Comparative advantages/disadvantages (risks) of producing the species in the Pacific:

    · Marketing infrastructure is important, whether for air or sea freight. Live fish transport vessels require a substantial quantity of product, e.g. 15 tonnes or more, to make a trip worthwhile, and Pacific countries may have difficulty accumulating such quantities

    · A source of high-quality feed needs to be established. Compounded (pellet) feeds are preferable, since they are more cost-effective and less environmentally damaging than the use of trash fish

    · Neighbouring producers (Asia and Australia) are major competitors for export fish commodities such as grouper and snapper

    · A hatchery is very labour intensive, requires skilled staff and is expensive to run. A proper market must be secured prior to setting up such a facility. It can be a risky investment if market conditions in the Pacific are unstable

    · Many fish stocks are depleted in urban and suburban places, and farmed fish may eventually replace wild-caught food fish in these places as it has in other part of the world

    · There are countries in the Pacific region where some fish species are traditionally very important culturally. These local species should be considered for farming, especially if targeting the local market.

    · Pacific Islands are renowned for the pristine quality of their water, which is generally 'pathogen free'. This means that there are many places suitable for hatcheries and offshore cage sites