Congressman Faleomavaega announced that at his request the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program has finalized arrangements for a visit by Dr. Albert Tacon, a specialist in aquatic feeds and nutrition from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, to American Samoa from November 14-21, 2003. Dr. Tacon, who also serves as Director of Aquatic Feeds & Nutrition of Aquatic Farms, Ltd, will travel to the island to conduct a feasibility study on developing a low cost fish feed using local food products and by-products.
“One of the major obstacles to successful aquaculture is the prohibitive costs of feed in farming many species of marine organisms,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “Often times, the monetary investment simply to feed cultured animals turns out to far exceed their economic value at the time of sale, making aquaculture ventures a risky endeavor. I am pleased that Dr. Tacon will be able to provide our farmers with valuable insight into how to make American Samoan aquaculture a viable industry by reducing the cost of feed for cultured organisms.”
“The preliminary species for aquaculture in American Samoa focuses on a type of fish called tilapia, a fish which has a primarily plant-based diet. Elsewhere in the world, many aquacultured species are carnivorous, requiring large amounts of fishmeal and fish oil for food, resulting in low ‘feed conversion ratios’. Farming tilapia, however, has real advantages for low cost production as it does not depend on either the purchase of additional fish products or increased fishing activities in order to sustain aquaculture farming.”
“Dr. Tacon’s goal will be to capitalize on local food by-products from American Samoa to develop economical fish feed. This approach is not only more ecologically sound, but will integrate well with traditional customs that recognize the connectivity between local communities and the environment,” the Congressman said.
“Dr. Tacon’s visit is a result of an ongoing effort I have undertaken to establish a Sea Grant presence in the Territory and is part of a larger initiative to bolster the burgeoning aquaculture industry in American Samoa. I have always believed that aquaculture in American Samoa has great potential and I have been working closely with the Hawaii Sea Grant Program to ensure that this potential is realized.”
“At this time, I want to again thank Dr. Gordon Grau, Director of Hawaii Sea Grant, for his continued support. I also want to thank Dr. Ronald Baird, Director of the National Sea Grant program. I also want to commend Dr. Darren Okimoto for the work he is doing at the American Samoa Community College and for working with our villages in establishing aquaculture farms. As a result of their continued support and our collaborative efforts, I believe we are well on our way to establishing fish farming at a level that will one day diversify our economy and promote further economic development in the Territory,” the Congressman concluded.