A/Prof Jes Sammut and Joshua Noiney from the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES) attended the World Aquaculture Society Conference in Darwin in early June 2023. Jes and Joshua gave two linked talks and participated in an expert panel discussion on aquaculture research and development in the Pacific

Jes presented on how their research program is increasing food, nutritional and income security for communities in rural Papua New Guinea (PNG). To date, the research program and partnership activities with the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) of PNG have cleared bottlenecks to fish production, enabling the industry to expand from 11,000 farms to over 70,000 farms in a decade.

Joshua presented on his role in establishing 22 satellite hatcheries in PNG, which are now delivering all-male fish fingerlings to farmers across the country. Joshua helped farmers build hatcheries and trained them in fingerling production methods, especially sex reversal of fish to ensure only male fingerlings are supplied to farmers. He described how using male fingerlings addresses the problem of fish breeding in the ponds, which would otherwise lead to stunting of fish, competition for costly fish feed, and overall higher production costs.  This technology has transformed fish farming in PNG.

Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) is a major partner in the UNSW-led project and has helped the project team to use cutting edge nuclear technologies in fish nutrition research. Jes Sammut and Dr Debashish Mazumder (ANSTO/UNSW) are supervising Joshua’s and have been building nuclear research expertise in NFA staff under successive projects.

The conference panel session provided an opportunity for Jes and Joshua to provide advice on how other Pacific nations could benefit from their research, which is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). They also gave expert opinions on how other countries can better network with each other and link to their research and outreach programs in PNG.  The panel discussion will underpin strategic planning for ACIAR investments in aquaculture research for development in the region. 

“Our research, which involves collaboration with the NFA, ANSTO and a number of PNG NGOs and government agencies, has helped small-scale farmers to address protein shortages, especially in remote rural areas. The conference was an opportunity to increase knowledge transfer to other researchers and managers from Pacific nations and to scope future collaborations,” said Jes.

He added, “It was great to see Joshua Noiney shine at the conference. He is a product of our project’s capacity building sub-program, and now doing his Masters research under an ACIAR-funded John Allwright Fellowship and an ANSTO FutureNow Fellowship. Supervising Joshua is a pleasure – he is motivated to achieve impact for PNG and values what research can accomplish for society.” 

Joshua Noiney said, "I felt proud to represent my country at this conference, and to be able to share what our projects in PNG have achieved for poor people in rural areas. It was also rewarding to advise other Pacific nations during the panel session. It was my first time speaking at such a high level of engagement with researchers and managers."

“I’ve learned so much about research and industry engagement from my involvement in the UNSW-NFA ACIAR projects, and now really fortunate to be studying at UNSW and ANSTO,” he said.

I felt proud to represent my country at this conference, and to be able to share what our projects in PNG have achieved for poor people in rural areas
Joshua Noiney
Masters Research Student, UNSW