Minister for Fisheries, Semi Koroilavesau today officiated at the opening of the inaugural Fiji Conference on the Cultivation of Penaeid Prawns at the Galoa Aquaculture Station in Serua.
Minister Koroilavesau said aquaculture was a growing sector in Fiji and had the potential to develop as one of the key areas in the fisheries sector if thoroughly explored and effectively capitalized upon.
Fiji currently imports close to 700 tonnes of shrimp annually with an estimated value of $24 million.
Minister Koroilavesau said one of Fiji’s biggest challenges is to reduce the import bill by promoting locally grown prawns and other viable cultured fish to achieve import substitution.
“While aquaculture is a key sector for food security, it also contributes to improving livelihoods and boosting fishery exports and reducing imports,” Minister Koroilavesau said.
“Aquaculture also enables resource conservation as it relieves pressure on over-exploited inshore capture fisheries resources and can assist in helping over-fished areas recover.”
The minister said while they welcomed potential foreign investors to help prawn or shrimp farming grow, locals were also encouraged to join the viable industry.
Minister Koroilavesau hoped the first ever conference on penaeid prawn cultivation would pave a way for better collaboration, networking, knowledge sharing and working together to develop aquaculture in Fiji.
More than 40 fisheries officials, key government stakeholders, prawn farmers, businesses and representatives from development partners were part of the day-long conference.