Fusion Marine supplies fish farm system for innovative new aquaculture project in Tahiti
Following a successful pilot project, Fusion Marine Ltd has supplied and is helping to install a small fish farm system in Tahiti that forms the important first steps in creating a flourishing and sustainable aquaculture sector for the Polynesian island.
In 2011, global aquaculture equipment supplier Fusion Marine was approached by Tahiti Fish Aquaculture to manufacture and supply a small 12m diameter polyethylene fish pen based on the company’s highly successful Oceanflex design. Fusion Marine also provided expert onsite help, advice and training on how to assemble the system, as well as installing the holding net and secure the moorings.
The pilot trial proved successful, and Tahiti Fish Aquaculture (TFA) has now ordered four more pens so as to complete the fish farm system. TFA is a new company and the species’ being farmed, the Orbicular Batfish (Platax orbicularis,) is also new to aquaculture. The Fisheries Service in Tahiti has been working to develop the farming of this species since 2006, which provided TFA with a good grounding on how to effectively rear the fish.
However, as Thomas Launay of TFA points out, it is still very much a learning process. “As a private farm we have to find ways based on the original techniques developed by the Fisheries Service to be more effective so as to ensure the production process is economically viable,” he says.
“We have already pioneered a few new techniques, including in the way that we feed the fish and the number of feeds per day. The techniques we use are sustainable, with no medicines or other treatments used at any stage of the rearing. We also only use non-GMO feed.”
The farm is situated on a peninsula seven kilometres from the village of Tautira in the Fenua Aihere region of Tahiti (Fenua Aihere means ‘wild land’ in Tahitian). The farm is in an area where there is no road access, which created its own very difficult problems to overcome.
Launay explains: “The main challenge is the lack of road access, particularly since we don’t have a big boat, which meant that transporting the equipment to the farm site was difficult. All the assembling of the fish farm pen components had to be done by hand, as well as the final installation in the sea. The weather was also very bad when assembling the first pen so we spent a lot of the time in mud under the continual rain. However, we had a lot of fun and enjoyed the challenge!”
TFA is planning to produce approximately 40 tonnes of Orbicular batfish per year, but is hoping to eventually double this output if suitable export markets are found.
Stephen Divers, managing director of Fusion Marine, said: “We are delighted to have helped this pioneering fish farm project in Tahiti get off the ground. Over the years, we have specialised in the setting up of successful farming operations in many remote sites in parts of the world that are new to aquaculture, including Ghana, Guatemala and Martinique.
“A key part of this lies in our ability to provide cost effective and bespoke fish farm pens for commercial operations that meet the special requirements of each location. This latest installation in Tahiti is our furthest away project at over 10,000 miles, so it is important that we also provide comprehensive onsite help, training and advice on assembling, installing and maintaining the systems.”
Fusion Marine engineering consultant, Manuel Borg of Divemed in Malta provided crucial support to the project, in particular by utilising his vast experience in fish farm mooring installation. A short video of the installation can be viewed at http://www.fusionmarine.com/videos.htm