Throughout the Asia-Pacific, aquaculture has been promoted as a means of improving income and food security for rural communities. However, aquaculture faces many environmental and social challenges because of competition for resources, the risk of environmental degradation, disease outbreaks, environmental limitations and a need for sustainable farming practices. The Asia-Pacific also faces many environmental planning challenges due to high population and development pressures. A/Professor Jes Sammut leads a team of researchers, technicians and extension officers in Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea who are working collaboratively on resolving aquaculture problems and improving environmental planning.
The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and agencies in partner countries co-fund linked research projects to identify and manage aquaculture production problems. The projects aim to improve farm yields, reduce environmental degradation and increase benefits to farmers and the wider community. ACIAR and AusAID-funded postgraduate students from developing countries participate in the research as part of the overall program’s capacity building activities. Based at UNSW, these students work on aquaculture and planning issues in their home country.
The group has built capacity at various research and extension institutes in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and conduct research and extension training for various overseas government agencies. The group has also been involved in aquaculture projects in the Philippines and will soon commence work in Vietnam to address rice-farming production problems.
An ACIAR-funded aquaculture project was launched on 18-19 August 2010 in Goroka in the Eastern Highlands of PNG to develop fish farming packages based on scientifically-validated methods.
Pond-based production of Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) and European Carp is rapidly expanding in the rural areas of Papua New Guinea (PNG) to the point that there are approximately 50,000 farms.
In Papua New Guinea, aquaculture is an important source of protein for the rural majority of the population, contributing food security and income generation.