A successful conference on sustainable aquaculture in tropical islands: Tahiti Aquaculture 2010
Tuesday, 08 March 2011 15:35

Over 200 participants from the Pacific, Asia, Americas, Europe and French Overseas Departments and Territories attended a week-long conference on aquaculture in Papeete, Tahiti from 6–11 December 2010. The conference was officially opened by His Excellency Gaston Tong Sang, President of French Polynesia.

Delegates came from several Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs), including the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Cook Islands, Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga. The French territories were well represented through participation from Guadeloupe, La Réunion, Mayotte, Martinique, New Caledonia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna, and the host country French Polynesia.


The main theme of the conference — Tahiti Aquaculture 2010 — was “Sustainable aquaculture on tropical islands”. Conference objectives included discussing progress made in aquaculture in tropical island settings, comparing experiences and know-how, and proposing strategies and solutions for aquaculture development taking place in tropical islands. Pearl oyster aquaculture was not covered during this conference as the main focus was on marine finfish and shrimp aquaculture .

Conference highlights

Some of the highlights included the following.

  • The demand for fish and fish products continues to increase at national levels. The need to look at initiatives to produce fish in a viable manner and ensure that aquaculture activities blend in with the lifestyle of the local people is important.
  • SPC’s review of shrimp aquaculture in PICTs was timely. Tahiti Aquaculture 2010 provided an opportunity to discover alternatives such as super intensive culture, bioflocs (built-in pond biofilter that provides microbial protein as a feed additive) and cage culture, most of which are very relevant to PICTs.
  • Hatchery-based marine finfish farming has a huge potential, as was thoroughly illustrated during Tahiti Aquaculture 2010. PICTs have an opportunity to learn from the experiences of French territories, USA (Hawaii) and Australia to further develop this activity. The use of native species (when possible) and thorough exploration of markets are required to ensure the success of such ventures.
  • The need for a clear policy direction supported by national management and development plans — especially from small island tropical states — were necessary in directing the focus on developing the aquaculture industry. It is evident that successful aquaculture nations tend to have better arrangements for aquaculture governance.
  • Ideas that are relatively new to the Pacific were also brought forward, such as integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA).[1]
  • It was clear from the conference that a number of countries are working on the development of sea cucumber aquaculture, given the favourable market value in the fishery for some species.
  • Biosecurity and health issues were also raised at the conference. Immediate action should take place in this area, such as the implementation of an SPC-based aquatic bio security focal point

During the conference, both SPC staff and Dr Jiansan Jia, Chief of the Aquaculture Services at FAO, exposed global and regional developments, emerging issues, and constraints arising from aquaculture development. In addition, resource people from the region and abroad were funded by SPC and other agencies to bring their expertise to the meeting in areas such as sustainable tropical aquaculture, hatchery techniques (broodstock handling live prey production), finfish and shrimp aquaculture, biosecurity and genetics.

The conference was divided in five sessions: 1) hatchery-based aquaculture (three subsessions: shrimp, fish and other species); 2) capture-based aquaculture; 3) aquatic animal health and the environment; 4) socioeconomic impact of aquaculture in tropical islands; and 5) governance. Each session was chaired and facilitated successfully, although there was so much to say and discuss that most sessions finished after the planned time.

Field trips organised by the fisheries service pleased everyone and gave a welcomed break to participants from the intensity of the conference. Field trips included a visit to the shrimp and fish farming projects on Tahiti’s presqu’île and a visit of the IFREMER centre and the future national hatchery.



Some of the key challenges that continue to hinder aquaculture development in countries were highlighted.

  • Biosecurity was highlighted as an important issue and the need for a clearer regional biosecurity framework would be helpful to PICTs.
  • Improvement on the collation of data to measure aquaculture development in this region needs to be strengthened through the provision of resources at national levels. Proper data keeping and reporting is important to member countries in order for them to assess the contribution of aquaculture to their national GDPs.
  • Although certain PICTs have demonstrated that national aquaculture programmes could greatly benefit industry development, the lack of skills, facilities and high turn-over of trained technicians in the sector continue to be issues in smaller island countries.
  • Countries that are undertaking sea cucumber aquaculture still face difficulties regarding technical know-how on seed production techniques and ocean rearing and restocking.

In conclusion

Overall, the importance of the aquaculture sector in meeting the growing global demand for nutritious food fish, contributing to growth in national economies, and supporting livelihoods in communities continued to be highlighted. However, challenges such as quality seed supply, feed supply and ingredients, genetic improvements, health and disease management, market access and trade barriers, continue to be faced.

The call for a regional biosecurity framework is not new and has been raised at various fora of SPC and other regional meetings to which SPC participates. SPC will look into working with its collaborating partners and agencies to continue to address the issue of establishing regional biosecurity framework. A concept note on developing a regional biosecurity framework will be put forward to the SPC Heads of Fisheries Meeting for Leaders’ endorsement in February 2011.

There is an expression of interest for a regional focus on sea cucumber aquaculture. Both SPC and FAO will work towards developing a regional sea cucumber project.

Creating an enabling environment for aquaculture to maintain its growth while also meeting societal needs and preserving natural resources is important and must continue to be emphasized and promoted at national and regional levels.

SPC wishes to acknowledge funding assistance from AusAID (through aquaculture programme funding), from the French Pacific Fund and the Coral Reef Initiatives for the Pacific (CRISP) project in supporting the Tahiti Aquaculture 2010 conference.

For further information, please contact Robert Jimmy (SPC Aquaculture Advisor at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or Antoine Teitelbaum (SPC Aquaculture Officer at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) provides byproducts, including waste, from an aquatic species as inputs (fertilizers, food) for another (see Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_Multi-Trophic_Aquaculture).