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Micronesian Mariculture Demonstration Center - Giant Clams

Micronesian Mariculture Demonstration Center - Giant Clams

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History of Aquaculture Development:


The Micronesian Mariculture Demonstration Center (MMDC),

later to be renamed the Palau Mariculture Center (PMDC),

was established in the early 1970s.

The MMDC was one of the first institutions to

suceededin mass production of giant clams.

Many countries in the Pacific were recipients of

Palau cultured clam broodstock which they

subsequently utilised in thier own giant clam projects.


Milkfish farming using fry from the wild was

attempted by private entrepreneurs.

With the development of the pole-and-line tuna fishery,

demand for live bait increased

when natural bait stocks were low.


Mollies or the top minnow (Poecilia vittata) were

cultured at MMDC with assistance from the

Trust Terrirtory and University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program.

Fishing trials to determine the effectiveness

of the new bait followed successful production of topminnows.

Trial results were higher than those at American Samoa.

It proved superior over natural bait in bad weather,

when tuna are further away from the shore

and when natural bait stocks are scarce.


Top minnows could be successfully cultured in Palau

but the decline of the fishery and abundance of

natural bait in the lagoons led to the end of molly cultivation.



Oyster farming was considered,

utilising the local species Crassostrea echinata,

but required further research.

Experimental farming of oysters on rafts and racks was initiated

with imported spat of C. gigas from California.

Trials were conducted twice with imported C. gigas spat but

were not successful because of difficulties related

to costs of the culture system,equipment,

inconsistent growth rates,natural disasters and vandalism.


C. gigas, however, was reported to be fast growing

(reached market size in one year, but spat mortality

was high from handling) and better quality

than the endemic species. C. echinata was cultured

in a village farm and harvested

by local families for domestic sales.


Mikimoto started experimental pearl farming in Palau

in 1920 using the local black lip oyster Pinctada margaritifera

and later imported gold-lip pearl oyster P. maxima.

Pearls were exported from Palau during the 1930s

by four companies controlled mostly by the Japanese.

At the outbreak of World War II pearl farms were abandoned.

In 1983, two pearl farms were in operation,

owned by locals and employing Japanese technicians.

Oysters cultured were mostly P. margaritifera.

Experimental trials were carried out

on the winged oyster Pteria penguin.


A hatchery for the culture of the indigenous

giant freshwater shrimp (Macrobrachium rosenbergii)

was established at MMDC an economic analysis

revealed that larger ponds, 8 ha,

would be more profitable in terms

of breakeven point than smaller farms.

Prawns were successfully spawned and raised but several

difficulties terminated trials at MMDC relating to

intermittent shortage of freshwater and personnel,

high cost of production of post-larvae

and minimal interest from the private sector.


Rabbitfish were cultured in response to a recommendation

by an FAO consultant D.K. Villaluz and also through

a request by local fishermen to replenish dwindling wild stocks.

Rabbitfish Siganus canaliculatus and S. lineatus were

successfully spawned and reared to fry stage at MMDC.

The economics of production and farming

of rabbitfish were expensive and MMDC



Sponge farming was reported to have been

carried out by the Japanese.

Trochus cultivation was one of the activities at MMDC.

The project was funded by the Pacific Tuna Development

Foundation (PTDF) in the early 1980s.

Trochus cultivation techniques were examined as well

as the monitoring of released seed in the wild.


• A local businessman initiated turtle farming in Palau.


Disease blinded and killed some of the turtles.

Government re-activated turtle farming in response to

deteriorating wild stocks in 1971,

utilising a small-scale hatchery at MMDC.

A hawksbill turtle headstart program was

reactivated in 1981 by government  and

released 800 juveniles with 80% hatching success.



National Aspirations:


- Progressive development and expansion

- Cultivate sea foods and products that are

  produced in environmentally responsible manner

- Maximum opportunity for profitability

  in all sectors of the industry


Constraints and Impediments :


- Compound financial and technical problems

- Complex and uncertain environmental regulations

- Other constrains include lack of funding, ponds, facilities,

   technical know-how, supervision and monitoring


Main Features of the Industry :


Aquaculture development in Palau has been revived

with a particular focus on its application to rural areas.

The government is currently involved with the FAO

in a joint project looking at factors affecting coastal

resource management and the application of aquaculture.

Giant clams remain the main aquaculture product of Palau.

These clams are raised in the government aquaculture centre.

Malakal Palau
Koror Palau

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Micronesian Mariculture Demonstration Center - Giant Clams

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