Aquaculture production is relatively recent in the Maldives in comparison to the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, with only one hatchery facility currently operational. The facility produces an estimated 40 tons of dried sandfish targeted at the Chinese markets. The production and export of cultured sea cucumbers were limited to the private hatchery facility until recently. A Maldivian Government initiative to develop mariculture enterprises, with the assistance of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is now working on extension of aquaculture grow-out operations at the community level. In addition, small-scale grow out operations for hatchery produced groupers as well as the hatchery production of milkfish as an alternative live feed for the pole-and-line fishery is expected to kick-off in the near future. Although the current requirement for aquaculture feed in the Maldives is limited to small-scale research activities, the requirement is expected to grow with the development of an aquaculture sector in the country.
Although aquaculture feed production is not carried out in the Maldives due to a lack of local demand, the country has potential for developing aquaculture feeds. Fishmeal produced from by-product of tuna processing activities (about 50-60% of the processed animals’ weight) is currently being produced and almost exclusively exported to Sri Lanka. The past few years export statistics shows that about 1,000 tons of fish meal is being exported annually at a price of about USD 1/kg. Crude estimates of the quality of the fishmeal exported from Maldives suggests that with slight improvements in the ash contents, the locally produced fish meal has potential for being used as a protein source in aquaculture feeds.
Local demand for aquaculture feed, especially for cultured groupers and milkfish is expected to increase with the establishment of a multispecies hatchery targeting the production of 100 tons of juvenile milkfish for the local pole-and-line fishery and approximately 500,000 grouper fingerlings for small-scale grow-out farmers within the Maldives. Although the aquaculture feeds for hatchery production will initially be sourced internationally, local production of lower-cost feed is anticipated with the increasing numbers of grow-out farmers.
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