Baininarama’s fish gift thriving in Samoa

'Gift" tilapia from Fiji in harvest size

‘Gift’ tilapia from Fiji in harvest size

Alan Ah Mu

APIA: THURSDAY 21 FEBRUARY 2013: A variety of tilapia gifted by Fiji’s military leader Commodore Frank Baininarama flourish in Samoa’s fish farms.

The Fiji military strongman gave the fish after Samoa was struck by the tsunami of 2009.

“We were surprised,” said acting head of Fisheries Division, principal fisheries officer, Joyce Samuelu Ah Leong.

The tilapia variety from Fiji was promptly named ‘Gift.’

Gift is known for faster growth than the varieties already in Samoa, mainly the African and the Nile or Israel varieties.

If proper maintenance requirements are followed they can be harvested in eight months instead of the eight months needed by the other varieties.

Out of the 39 fish farms in the county, 24 of them now raise Gift.

Ms. Ah Leong said the intention of Fisheries with tilapia is to boost food security at the subsistence level – and to take the pressure off the reef fish.

Fingerlings and advice on how to raise tilapia are given free by the Division.

Farmers pay to build ponds themselves.

Some have tried to take tilapia farming to a commercial level and sell to restaurants and the Asian community.

But consistency of supply is absent and some farmers charge too high for tilapia.

When Fisheries have worked with farmers to sell tilapia the price was set at $5 a kilo.

Ms. Ah Leong said they struggle with the commercial side of tilapia because of a lack of expertise.

They have no fish economist.

“We’re just scientists.”

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