Michel Bermudes

The Opportunities and Challenges for a Transition from the Gleaning to the Farming of Shellfish in the Pacific Islands Region

Shellfish hold a critical and a special place for coastal and island communities in the Pacific Islands Region. They are a ubiquitous and incredibly versatile resource in the way they can be used for food, the manufacture of tools, handicrafts and curios, and culturally when used as traditional money. Beyond their material and food value, shellfish play a pervasive socio-economic role as they are collected by both men and women regardless of their social standing and for either professional or subsistence reasons. Under the continued and increasing pressure of population growth, and while not well documented, there is anecdotal evidence that suggests localised depletion (e.g., Spondylus sp. used for shell money, Anadara sp. used for food and barter). Despite the increased frequency of localised depletions, the farming of shellfish for food has not been systematically approached in the Pacific Islands Region despite many attempts over the past 50 years. This paper will review the current status of shellfish farming in the Pacific Islands Region and previous attempts at framing shellfish for food to better understand the challenges that exist in having coastal and island communities transition from the gleaning to the framing of shellfish in the Pacific Islands region.

Keywords: shellfish, farming, aquaculture, Pacific, island, food security.

Figure: Shellfish are consumed throughout the Pacific like in Kiribati where they are gleaned at low tide. The farming of shellfish for food remains, however, a foreign concept in the region despite the urgent need to improve the productivity of coastal fisheries Frank Magron).