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Vanuatu company shortlisted for finals of innovative fishery business competition

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Three fishing companies – from Vanuatu, Palau and the Solomon Islands – were shortlisted for the finals of the global Fish 2.0 business competition, which recognises businesses in the fishery sector that employ innovative and sustainable approaches to simplify supply chains, while increasing incomes for fishers.

Shepherd Islands Organic Seafood, a company based in Vanuatu which farms organic sea cucumbers and sea urchins.

“I feel blessed to be part of the Fish 2.0 2017 competition. It’s been an amazing opportunity. Through the competition I’ve become clearer in my vision for Shepherd Islands Organic Seafood and championing sustainable fishing practices,” says company owner, Obed Matariki. His company has developed a lucrative customer base among Chinese seafood distributors and pharmaceutical companies for its exported sea cucumbers and sea urchins and successfully diverted artisanal fisherman and turtle hunters into more sustainable livelihood activities.

In Palau, Indigo Seafood has trained local people to use sustainable methods to farm high value products, such as grouper and giant clams. The company employs over 75 local people, in addition to working with 70 giant clam farmers. To increase growth rates and reduce pressure on wild-caught sources of fishmeal, such as sardines and other forage fish, Indigo Seafood has also developed protein-rich feeds from soy and other grains.

Indigo Seafood has also recently deployed its first two rigid polyhedral AquapodsTM. These submerged cages, designed by Mexican company Ocean Farm Technologies, are lowered into deep water off-shore. The free floating, untethered cage is able to change location with the ocean’s currents, creating less stress on surrounding environments and lowering the risk of disease. Being located at least 1.6 km out at sea in deep water protects fish from air and marine predators, as well as rough weather on the ocean’s surface. Indigo Seafood employs local people to monitor the health and growth of grouper farmed in these cages, as well as to maintain the cages themselves. The fish grown in the AquapodsTM are not only for export to live seafood markets in China, Hong Kong and Tokyo, but also for local consumption.

Didds Fishing Company, a social enterprise based in the Solomon Islands – which was selected as one of the eight Fish 2.0 2017 winners – enables island communities to fish for premium bottom-water species off-shore to relieve pressure on in-shore fisheries. “Fishing is line-specific, fish-specific – we do not go all out with nets or other unsustainable methods,” explains Toata Molea, owner of Didds Fishing. “And because the men are fishing about 6 km off the reef, it relieves pressure on in-shore fisheries so reef fish are actually spawning and thriving without much pressure on [the reef],” Molea adds. The company provides boats, fuel and ice to fishing families in the community of Makwanu. Didds Fishing pays for the fish directly into the fishers’ accounts, which they can access at the local village store. The increased access to cash has boosted families’ capacity to send their children to school, as well as purchase food and clothing.

Originally by Stephanie Lynch and Bernadette Carreon for