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Aquaculture Farming and Post Tsunami in Gizo, Solomon Islands

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6 – 7 July 2010

S8 05.899 E156 51.680 – WorldFish Center, Nusa Tupe & Gizo Airport

S8 07.515 E157 06.123 – Onma Lodge, Kolombangara

The April 2007 earthquake and tsunami wrecked havoc to the lives of many in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. Foreign aid and rebuilding was slow and difficult, but the people of the Western Province persevered and rebuilt their lives from scratch.  We visited a facility called the WorldFish Center (formerly known as ICLARM) interestingly located on an airport island called Nusa Tupe found 15 minutes boat ride from Gizo town. WorldFish Center conducts marine livelihood workshops and training to aquaculture farmers found throughout the Western Province. For the past three years, WorldFish in collaboration with WWF Solomon Islands and NZAid have given training to communities in and around Gizo to culture giant clams and coral fragments. These training and support has created rural livelihood projects in the form of culturing sustainable marine ornamentals for the aquarium trade.

The manager of WorldFish Center in Nusa Tupe with WWF's Bill Apusae in one of the tanks where they keep the clam spawnersThe manager of WorldFish Center in Nusa Tupe with WWF's Bill Apusae in one of the tanks where they keep the clam spawners Regon Warren, WorldFish Center's principal technical aid shows us the brood stock corals used to get coral fragments fromRegon Warren, WorldFish Center's principal technical aid shows us the brood stock corals used to get coral fragments from

One such aquaculture farmer who received training from WorldFish is Erik Koti.

Erik Koti holds some of his coral fragmentsErik Koti holds some of his coral pieces. Cultured corals are propagated by cutting fragments of corals from mother colonies or brood stock. These coral pieces are attached to concrete mounts until it grows into a new colony

With the assistance of WWF, he and his family built Onma Lodge in Kolombangara in 2007. They had just finished the construction of their first bungalow when the tsunami struck and they lost almost everything.

Right before the earthquake, the dogs barked and ran away to higher ground; their clucking chickens flew to the tree top. When they saw the waters recede from the bay, they left everything and ran to the hills 50 meters above sea level. Since the epicentre of the quake was in this area, the water gradually came in and did not hit in big waves. But it reached the height of about 3 meters and for 6 – 8 hours, water inundated their entire property destroying their homes and livelihood.

Erik Koti cleans his farmed giant clams. The most desirable species of giant clams are the colourful Tridacna maxima and T. crocea. Adults, usually collected on the reefs, are brought to hatcheries where they are spawned, and their larvae are reared until they are ready to settle. They are then transferred to land-based nursery systems until they are big enough to be transferred to ocean grow-out systems. They usually reach commercial size at the age of 2 years.  Erik Koti cleans his farmed giant clams. These clam species are the colourful Tridacna maxima and Tridacna derasa. Adults, often collected from the reef, are brought to Nusa Tupe tanks where they spawn and their larvae reared until ready to settle. When big enough, they are transferred to farmers' ocean grow-out systems. Giant clams reach export size after 2 years

Three years after the tsunami disaster, Erik Koti and his family are still building Onma Lodge. We stayed in their new bungalow by the jetty and had a wonderful time with Erik and his wife, his daughters, son-in-law and his grandchildren. He has an incredibly charming coral and clam garden all around his jetty. Without getting wet, we could see the diversity of marine life just by sitting there. Bliss.

Onma Lodge can accommodate 5 people. Experience authentic Solomon Island hospitality here and enjoy food cooked with hot stones!Onma Lodge can accommodate 5 people and WWF holds their little workshops here. Erik's daughter Derin with her daughter VikshniErik's daughter Derin with her daughter Vikshni Village life couldn't be more charming than seeing these young girls look out their kitchen windowVillage life couldn't be more charming than seeing these young girls look out their kitchen window

With the Koti family, we experienced authentic Solomon Island hospitality peppered with so much laughting and eating. The welcome drink of lemon juice was addicting, I kept asking for more! And we enjoyed homey food like crispy sweet potatoes and yam cooked with hot stones from a traditional motu stone oven!

While frying sweet potatoes into crispy chips, Rinda Melsen, one of Erik's daughters took care the motu stone oven cooked the yams wellWhile frying sweet potatoes into crispy chips, Rinda Melsen, one of Erik's daughters, took care of the motu stone oven to cook the yam! First Rinda heats the stones are heated in fire. With bamboo tongs, the stones are arranged in a circle and peeled root crops from their gardens like yam, sweet potatoes, cassava, or taro are placed in the middle of hot stones. The yam is covered more hot stones until it closes like an oven.First, Rinda heated the motu stones in fire. With bamboo tongs, she arranged the stones in a circle. Peeled yam from their garden were placed in the middle of hot stones. The yams were covered with more hot stones until it closed in like an oven. Finally, banana leaves sealed the motu preventing moisture and heat from escaping and the result was delicious smoked yam both steamed and roasted. Yummy yams!

Life in the Koti village is simple. Water comes from the well, food fish is caught from the ocean and home grown vegetables harvested from their gardens.  The rebuilding after the tsunami was incredibly hard work but they are slowly and positively rising above the calamity. When we were there, the generators were turn on the whole night for the menfolk to watch the World Cup semi-finals!

And play. The children play in nature. Anthea Melsen, Rinda's daughter smiles shyly as she comes out of the water looking after looking at her grandfather's coral and clam gardensAnd play. The children play freely in their backyard of pure nature. Anthea Melsen, Rinda's daughter smiles shyly as she comes out of the water after looking at her grandfather's coral and clam gardens And lest we forget, we have the required finale - the panda portrait!And lest we forget, we have the required finale - the panda portrait!

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Comments


  • http://delhidreams.blogspot.com adee

    lovely!
    u guys are doing a great job rebuilding people’s lives 🙂

  • Harold Baona

    I am member of Koti Family from Aitape, Papua New Guinea and would like to know more of your family name Koti.