Aquaculture is one the key areas of teaching and research at SMS. Upgraded facilities and equipment are available to undertake a wide variety of research projects. Further development of facilities is progressively being done to make provision for temperature or ‘climate’ controlled experiments, indoor aquarium experiments and outdoor tank based experiments.
The growth in aquaculture, globally, in the past couple of decades has been manifold. Production of seafood products from aquaculture overtook capture fisheries production by about eighty million tonnes in 2014.
One of the most important advantages of sustainable aquaculture is that it reduces the pressure on the natural or wild fisheries. Due to the demand for seafood products as healthy food, many species of fishes, crustaceans, molluscs and other types of aquatic animals from the wild have been heavily exploited. It is now harder and more costly, than in the past, to supply the naturally produced products.
In the Pacific Islands, fisheries products and seafood is a major component of the local diet due to the easy access to the sea and reefs. With modern fishing methods, outboard motors and also overseas buyers for some of the products, much of the local fisheries, both freshwater and marine, is severely depleted.
It is therefore imperative that aquaculture is developed in the Pacific region. Breeding and farming of species such as giant clams, other shellfish species, freshwater and marine prawns and fish species, not only reduces the pressure on natural stocks but can help in the restocking of species. There is also the opportunity for local sales and export of seafood products for income generation.
With the aquaculture production sector, there is also production of very high value non-food products such as pearls and aquarium species. There has been significant development in this sector in the Pacific Islands, however, more information and research is required for further development and improvement in production levels.
The areas of research interest and current studies in Aquaculture include:
1. Identification and determining the aquaculture potential of local species.
2. Seasonal growth and recruitment patterns in Pearl Oysters.
3. Relationship between microalgae species and Pearl Oyster health.
4. Utilisation of local ingredients in the feeds of Tilapia.
5. Breeding and larval production of local brackish water Mudcrabs.
6. Feed and diet of Mudcrabs.
7. Communities based Mudcrab aquaculture.
8. Biology and aquaculture potential of various shellfish species.
9. Improving the larval production of freshwater prawns for aquaculture.
10. Improvement in the culture of locally present marine prawn species.