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Developing inland aquaculture in Solomon Islands

Freshwater Aquaculture – Developing Inland Aquaculture in Solomon Islands
Project leader
Michael Phillips
1 Oct 2011
30 Sep 2015
Adding fertiliser to land nursery tank - Aruligo, Solomon IslandsLike other Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs), Solomon Islands has a great reliance on fish for food and income. In a total population of just over half a million people, some 75% of Solomon Islanders are subsistence-oriented, small-holder farmers and fishers; and fish accounts for 73% of total expenditure on food that is sourced from animals.
Many PICTs recognize that there is an increasing gap between fish supply and demand; this is due to growing populations, combined with the impacts of climate change and overfishing on the health of inshore reef fisheries. With future shortfalls in food fish production in Solomon Islands projected to be between 6,000 and 20,000 tonnes per year by 2030 (Weeratunge et al. 2011), inland aquaculture development has been identified as a way to meet future demand for fish.
Currently, aquaculture operations in Solomon Islands produce small quantities of Mozambique tilapia for household consumption. However, existing farming systems for this species are not adequate for future domestic fish demand. Farming of an indigenous food fish or an improved strain of Nile tilapia will be needed. Earlier research has identified the indigenous milkfish (Chanos chanos) as a promising option for Solomon Islands aquaculture.

Challenges and questions

Developing Inland Aquaculture in the Solomon Islands is a four-year project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The aim of this large project is to identify the best ways for the Solomon Islands Government to carry out an inland aquaculture programme which will contribute to the nation’s food and nutritional security. To do this, the project will address a number of questions:
  • Which species, farming systems and production models can best improve existing household aquaculture systems and develop new systems?
  • How can delivery of fish feed and fish seed and essential services such as extension and finance be efficiently and sustainably provided?
  • How can aquaculture be developed to optimize food and nutritional benefits for those most in need?
  • What ecological risks are associated with the growth of aquaculture and how can these be managed and minimized?
  • What systems of communication and partnership will most effectively help broadcast the research findings; both within Solomon Islands and to other PICTs facing similar future food-security scenarios?    

Promising directions

This project will assist Solomon Islands inland aquaculture to move in the promising directions identified by Aquaculture and Food Security in the Solomon Islands – Phase 1 (ACIAR 2010). Its initial focus will be to research the practicality of improving existing Mozambique farming and analyse the feasibility for milkfish farming. On-farm trials for husbandry and management systems for milkfish and/or Nile tilapia (depending on Solomon Island Government decisions on the ecological risk analysis of introducing Nile tilapia) will then be conducted to explore ways of improving production at greater scale, including provision of fish to urban markets in Malaita and Guadalcanal. Building partnerships and strengthening national capacity will be a continuing focus of the project.
As the project progresses, it will generate handbooks and training materials for fish farmers, lessons learned and policy documents for government officials, scientific publications, and a range of communication materials for community, provincial and national audiences, including private investors, as well as for audiences in other PICTs facing future fish supply shortfalls. Partnerships and knowledge products will be pursued in ways that contribute to the longer-term goal of developing a viable aquaculture industry which contributes at scale to the country’s future fish needs.
The geographical focus of the project will be primarily the islands of Malaita and Guadalcanal which have the highest concentration of existing tilapia household ponds/tanks and potential sites for new aquaculture investments. These islands also have two of the country’s largest demand centers for fish in Honiara (Guadalcanal) and Auki (Malaita). On both islands, special attention will be paid to rural households that do not have easy access to marine resources, and with a gendered approach that is sensitive to the requirements of men, women and children in the household.
Over its lifetime, the project will have scientific, capacity and community development outcomes, and will be at the forefront of fisheries and aquaculture research through being aligned with the global CGIAR Research Program Aquatic Agricultural Systems.


Weeratunge, N., Pemsl,D., Rodriguez, P., Chen, O.L., Badjeck, M.C., Schwarz, A.M., Paul, C., Prange, J., Kelling, I. 2011. Planning the use of fish for food security in Solomon Islands. Coral Triangle Support Partnership. 51 pp.