Spotlight: Aquaculture


Aquaculture is a potentially important industry for income generation and food security throughout many parts of Papua New Guinea.

Barramundi are now being bred for release into PNG's river systems. Credit: PNGSDP

Barramundi are now being bred for release into PNG’s river systems. Credit: PNGSDP

While exact statistics are difficult to come by, pond culture of carp, tilapia and rainbow trout has increased significantly in recent years. Over 10,000 farmers are engaged in the sector throughout inland areas with the value of production estimated at 10 million kina (US$4.8 million), according to the National Fisheries Authority (NFA).

Recent aquaculture initiatives include cultivation of silver-lip pearl oysters on Samurai Island, prawn culture in earthen pods in Rabaul, and the upgrading of Naqo Island Mariculture and Research Station.

‘There is a big push on at the moment. In fact, I have created a new [aquaculture] division within the NFA and we are moving in a big way,’ says the NFA’s Managing Director Sylvester Pokajam. ‘We have got a [cooperation] agreement with the CSIRO in Townsville and we have built the extension facility at Naqo Island.’

Naqo Island

Infrastructure at Naqo Island, in New Ireland province, includes a hatchery, algal and wet labs, indoor and outdoor larval tanks and quarantine areas. Project ideas being researched there include trochus community restocking trials, cage-farming rabbit fish, introducing new seaweed types, mariculturing marine ornamentals and mabe pearl culture trials.

The NFA is also looking to forge a partnership with the Eastern Highlands provincial government to refurbish and re-equip an existing research facility, in order to offer extension services to other parts of the Highlands.

Barramundi in Western Province

The 28 million kina (US$12.7 million) Western Province Sustainable Aquaculture Project in Daru includes a barramundi hatchery, storage, administration building and staff accommodation. A bio-filtration and aeration facility is capable of producing up to 500,000 ‘fingerlings’ (young fish that have developed to about the length of a finger) per annum. These fingerlings will be used to rejuvenate the Fly River barramundi stocks, and stock a ‘cage culture’ project empowering the rural communities in the Middle and South Fly to farm barramundi.

Story continues after advertisment...

Private-sector specialists

PNG farmers are beginning to specialise in specific parts of the fish aquaculture custody chain. Private-sector tilapia and carp hatcheries are being established as stand-alone businesses. These now act as district-level distribution centers for both fingerlings and feed, each supplying as many as 100 other farmers.

‘PNG farmers are beginning to specialise in specific parts of the fish aquaculture custody chain’

Among the specialists are Potsy Tilapia Hatchery in Morobe, which sells tilapia fingerlings for pond stocking throughout the province. Kotuni Trout Farm in Goroka is being revived as a community project and aims to breed stock on its on-site hatchery, while Sirinumu Dam tilapia cage culture farm supplies tilapia in Port Moresby, and is working towards supplying fingerlings throughout southern PNG.

Private  sector uptake of public-funded initiatives in aquaculture is seen as promising.

‘When measured in terms of sheer numbers of farmers, volume of production, and economic sustainability of projects, PNG is a clear leader. The spirit of enterprise is alive and well, and farmer motivation is high,’ wrote Tim Pickering of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Aquaculture Program in a November 2011 report. ‘Specialisation of activities within the fish custody chain, such as the emergence of private hatchery operators, is one hallmark of a successful and maturing industry.’

First published in Made in PNG 2012


  1. speak with Douglas Kawa in Banz district who is a Specialist in Aquaculture and mariculture in PNG.

  2. Elijah.Bokase Lipan says

    Iam starting a tout farm in the Tsak Valley of Wapenamanda in Enga Province and Iam seeking financial assistance to assist me construct the trout farm. Iam my using my own resources but I still need financial assistance to fully complete the trout farming project.

  3. Philip Agoniso says

    I am living in Mt.Hagen WHP and have great interest in fish farming. Here I really require assistance like:
    1. Type of species suitable for highlands freshwaters
    2. How long does each species take till ready for personal use or commercial use
    3. Fish farming information brochures & guides especially in highlands region.
    4. Other helpful information concerning fish farming in highlands.

    Thats all and thanks…

Leave a Reply