(L-R) Ngiwal State traditional leadersNgirngesechei Leo Ruluked Jr and Baklim Alfonso Llecholch., AP expertsCarlos Chiu and Jack Lin

Rabbit fish (meyas/kelsebuul) aquaculture is taking off thanks to concerted effort between Palau and Taiwan Aquaculture Project.  On December 24, 2019, the Taiwan-Palau Aquaculture Project delivered the first batch of rabbit fish to the third cage of Ngchesar State government with 2200 meyas and klsebuul.  On December 31, Mesikt Marina Aquaculture in Melekeok received the third batch of meyas.

Demand for the cultured fries is increasing as the production output is now higher in the hatchery compared with 2016 –2018 and local residents are expressing interest in trying rabbit fish culture, according Bureau of Marine Resources.

“Since the fries propagation in the BMR hatchery has stabilized, the farmers’ cages can increase in numbers to make more activities and profits for locals. We wish BMR-Taiwan Aquaculture Project would not only supply fries to farmers, but also hold the educational activity to enhance farmers’ concept and culture techniques. The youth in Palau could also be exposed to learning the importance of marine animals’ biology, ecology and protection of the environment education,’’ say the Aquaculture Project experts.

The Taiwan Palau Aquaculture Project (AP), one of the foreign cooperative organizations with the Palau Bureau of Marine Resources (BMR), has already begun marine animal research and presented achievements for local industries since 2012.  BMR, the Taiwan Embassy and AP experts are collaborating in rabbit fish fries production as well as promoting floating fish cage ranching culture.

Local organizations such as Mesikt Marina Aquaculture (MMA) in Melekeok State, Nabeyama aquaculture farm in Ngatpang State, the Ngchesar State government and Ngermechau Klobak Association in Ngiwal State are all AP cooperative farmers and continuously culturing artificially-bred rabbit fish from the BMR-Taiwan AP.

In May 2019, Bureau of Marine Resources launched the farmer inspections with Aquaculture Project support. After 6 months of data collection, the team has already established protocol for rabbit fish culture SOP. On the 4th visitation to the cages in Ngchesar State, the meyas fries growth rate performance was better than expected by the AP experts. Aside from a very good growth data, a higher survival rate and lower deform situation were also observed in the Ngchesar State meyas floating cages. By following the instructions from the BMR-Taiwan AP team, the state employees are demonstrating great farming performance and can go on to set the benchmark for other prospective people who want to join aquaculture in the future.

“Through our strengthened outreach effort, good results will make local farmers confident on rabbit fish culture and share the optimistic vision of the Bureau with your dedication in the hatchery and BMR’s supporting incentives,” the BMR Director Leon Remengesautold the AP experts.

The aquaculture project is generating interests in school students as well. On January 20, 2020, two Taiwanese students and two Palau High Schools students started their career practicum at BMR to learn the science of aquaculture.For the Taiwanese students, this provides an opportunity to exchange marine conservation perceptions.

Food security is the main goal for Palau since its marine resources has diminished in recent years. To avoid overfishing activities influencing sea food security in Palau, aquaculture would be the new vision of food supply throughout the world.

On Jan 18, 2020, the AP expert Cheng Min Ying finished the contract and received appreciations from BMR and a farewell party from the Embassy for his efforts and dedication inthe Aquaculture Project in Palau. Cheng had served in India 11 years in the fish feed industry and started to conduct the feeding program for fish cagefarmers in Palau. During his time here, the AP establisheda demonstration cage in Koror State where trials is currently running with the results to be used as guideline for the farmers.

His replacement, Mr. Carlos Chiu, is a new aquaculture expert sent by Taiwan Embassy under the Taiwan-Palau bilateral project. Carlos has extensive experience in dietary Probiotic on water qualities, growth and Immunity in aquaculture. As the demand for rabbitfish fries remains high, the AP team will continue employing its expertise to promote Palau seafood production and food security while minimizing impact on the environment.

(R.O.C Embassy Release)