Participants at the launching shouting the fisheries slogan with (seated l to r) DG Climate Change — Jesse Benjamin, Shefa Province Secretary General — Michel Kalworai, Giz Advisor — Craig Bohm, Minister Matai Seremiah, Project Team Leader — Dr. Satya Nandlal, and DG MALFF&B — Howard Aru.

By Jonas Cullwick

A Freshwater Aquaculture Trials and Governance Project for Vanuatu was officially launched Monday by the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biodiversity

, Matai Seremiah, at a ceremony at The Melanesian hotel in Port Vila aimed at combating the impacts of climate change.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Minister Seremiah, emphasized that the Republic of Vanuatu was particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and the country was ranked the most vulnerable country in the world to both geological and climate risks.

“The impacts of climate change affect our people, our prosperity and security. To combat the impacts of climate change on us we need to be active on many fronts,” he reminded attendance.

“We must continually seek to understand what climate change is doing to us and how we can adapt to the challenges that it presents us. We must learn more, enhance our skills and advance the way we are doing things,” he added.

Minister Seremiah believed that these Freshwater Aquaculture Trials and Governance projects will help the people of Vanuatu do this in their way.

The project will design specific strategies that can be adopted at government fish hatcheries and on individual aquaculture farms, he suggested.

“These strategies will advance the development of small-scale fish farming in Vanuatu and if diligently adopted, will ensure that the benefits of aquaculture can be enjoyed by present and future generations.”

The project objectives are twofold: trial and test economically and environmentally sustainable small-scale community-based aquaculture model, integrating successes into a robust national aquaculture governance system; and upgrade the infrastructure of Tagabe Freshwater Aquaculture Centre including improving skills of its technicians and enhancing overall planning and management of the facility.

There are also two expected outcomes: environmentally sustainable small-scale, community-based aquaculture models tests; and functional and effective national aquaculture facility upgraded and supporting community-based aquaculture.

This is a critical, scientific research project involving three local communities on Efate – Mangaliliu, Eton and Onesua.

“During the project, special events will be used to bring interested people together to learn from the project activities and to share knowledge on aquaculture practices with each other,” Minister Seremiah added.

From the project, government agencies will be able to better assist ni-Vanuatu fish farmers with ‘climate proofing’ individual aquaculture investment plans.

The project will help underpin advancements in Vanuatu’s food security, nutritional standard of our people, and also contribute to the economic development of our nation,” the Fisheries Minister continued.

The cost of this project is over 290,000 Euro, which is more than Vt35.5 million, “but the project’s potential contribution to Vanuatu in real terms is more than that”, funded by the European Union under its Economic Development Fund (EDF10) and Adapting to Climate Change and Sustainable Energy (ACSE) program.

The German foundation GIZ is administering the ACSE program and is providing additional administrative and technical support to the project.

Project partners with the Vanuatu Government are the EU, Queensland University of Technology and GIZ and the three participating communities.

Also present at the launching were Mr. Craig Bohm – GIZ Advisor, Dr. Satya Nandlal – Representative of the Queensland University of Technology and Project Team Leader who said the project took three years to get to this point, and Mr. Jesse Benjamin – DG to the Ministry of Climate Change who gave the Ministry’s assurance of support for the project.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: Cell # 678 5460922

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