Marshalls fish farm given US cash boost
A Marshall Islands fish farm expected to expand after US cash boost.
Marshall Islands officials say a fish farm will be expanded to historic levels after an injection of cash from the US government.
The Rongelap project has received two million dollars from the Pacific American Climate Fund.
Mayor James Matayoshi told Koro vaka'uta that the project can now kick on high production levels after initially being in a trial phase.
JAMES MATAYOSHI: We did some data collection on a trial, bringing in eggs and they were able to hatch and do a sample grow-out. That was very successful so we converted into a public-private partnership to create Aqua-Culture Technologies of the Marshall Islands and in the process we also did some feed production as trial, utilising our raw materials that are available here locally. From the loading plant as well as processing and facilities doing the tuna processing. So everything became somewhat a breakthrough for the whole country to really expand on now.
KORO VAKA'UTA: And the news about this grant, how did you react or respond to it?
JM: Well we are very happy, very excited, but at the same time, even more focussed on keeping the momentum going to ensure we will implement a successful output.
KV: What does this grant and the project in general mean for the people of Rongelap?
JM: Well it means a lot because we're looking at employing, in the next three years, close to 100 people. It means, you know, food security for our citizens. It means an export market, especially in Hawaii and Asia. We have distributors of fish ready to purchase our produced harvest-sized fish. The Pacific Threadfin particularly and Taiwan has been on standby to receive those containers.
KV: And in terms of the particular grant, what will that be used in the near future?
JM: It enables us to upgrade our feed processing facility, the equipment. Utilising the raw materials. It enables us to purchase more cages and put into the lagoon. We currently have six cages in the first commercial production but we want to increase it to about 30. Some of those will be located on Rongelap Island, where we would like to resettle our people as well as provide job opportunities for those who live there.
KV: And in terms of capacity, how much are you guys looking to produce or aiming to produce anyway?
JM: Right now, we're looking at six to ten thousand pounds every week. As we get more cages and upgrade the feed production we're looking at about twenty thousand fish to produce per week. That is our goal now.
A black lip pearl oyster farm on Namdrik Atoll has also received preliminary support for a 150,000 dollar grant from the fund.
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