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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Oct. 26) – The University of the South Pacific yesterday signed a FJ$100,000 (US$58,400) contract to develop a commercial prawn farm with Dairy Farms Fiji in Navua.

[PIR editor’s note: Navua is located just southeast of the capital city of Suva on the coast of Viti Levu island.]

The collaboration was further sealed in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Univeristy of the South Pacific vice-chancellor Professor Anthony Tarr and Dairy Farms Fiji representative Paul Boocock.

Dairy Farms is part of the New Zealand Company that received Cabinet's approval in January this year to lease the Viti Corp site.

The director of the University’s Institute of Marine Resources, Dr. Kenneth MacKay, said the University would manage the first six months of phase one through technical support and training of the future farm manager of the prawn farm in Navua.

He said phase two would be taken over by Dairy Farms, while the University would continue to supply prawn post larvae and offer its expertise.

"We have estimated the cost of the project to be around FJ$350,000 (US$204,400) for the first year. Then there would be other costs like feed, equipment and other additional expenses," he said.

The University would receive FJ$100,000 (US$58,400) from Dairy Farms for their assistance with the project. The Institute of Marine Resources, through many of its staff members, had substantial experience with smaller scale prawn farms in Fiji, and management of large-scale shrimp farms in Mozambique, said Dr. MacKay.

The University’s prawn hatchery has been producing prawn post larvae for two years to small-scale operators prior to its involvement with Dairy Farms Fiji. There are 24 ponds at the site in Navua with fresh water from the upper Navua River.

Mr. Boocock said the company chose University of the South Pacific because it had the facility for research and the staff who already had some experience in the field.

"The farm would be beneficial to the people of Navua because the company would use local expertise and employ local people. We would also be using resources that are available locally," he said.

October 27, 2005

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