A GIFT to PNG fisheries

July 25, 2022

Joshua Noiney undertaking research in Papua New Guinea

Protein deficiency is a significant human health issue in Papua New Guinea (PNG). With the fourth highest rate of stunting in the world affecting 50% of children under the age of 5 and more than 40% of the population living in poverty, programs to improve food and nutrition security is a clear focus for Australia. Against that backdrop, increasing access to locally produced protein, via fish farming, and generating income from scaling up production through commercial fish farming, are front and centre.

Our NSW Committee and invited guests will hear from young PNG researcher, Joshua Noiney, on 27 July on how his work is impacting these significant issues. Joshua has had support from the Crawford Fund for training in PhotoVoice, collecting social impact data, capturing data from narratives, video techniques and science communication. Also speaking at the event is Dr Natalie Moltschaniwskyj, NSW DPI Chief Scientist and Dr Suzanne Hollins, Head of Research, ANSTO. More on Joshua and his work follows:

Generating income from scaling up production through commercial fish farming is a primary ambition for young PNG researcher, Joshua Noiney, who will explain his work on genetically improved farmed tilapia (GIFT) to a group of senior researchers and scientists prior to returning to PNG in September for fieldwork. Those to hear of Joshua’s work include Dr Natalie Moltschaniwskyj, the NSW DPI Chief Scientist; Dr Suzanne Hollins, Head of Research at ANSTO, and members of the Crawford Fund NSW Committee which has funded some of Joshua’s training. His talk will be at Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), on 27 July and will include a tour the facilities where some of his work is processed.

Joshua Noiney in the laboratory

Joshua grew up near the Zogozoguka River in Goroka, in the Eastern Highlands Province of PNG. His fascination with fishing and diving led him to pursue a degree in Fisheries and Marine Resources at the University of Natural Resources and Environment, and he is employed as an Aquaculture Officer at the PNG National Fisheries Authority (NFA).

Joshua is now in Australia to top up this local knowledge with additional studies and research ranging from the scientific to the artistic. He has worked on projects to expand inland aquaculture in PNG using profiling of fish tissue, as well as statistics for aquaculture research, fish gut microbiology, environmental assessment, and resource management. He has also incorporated training in PhotoVoice, capturing data from narratives, using video and interviews with fishers.

Joshua’s research focuses on the genetically improved farmed tilapia (GIFT) strain of the Nile tilapia under different feeding regimes in the cool-climate Eastern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea. This fits in well with the NFA program he has led that has established over 20 satellite hatcheries across PNG. 

“It is imperative that we can grasp an understanding on the growth rate of Nile tilapia and the best feeding regime so that local farmers can maximise profits and better themselves,” explained Joshua.

“My project has the potential to increase fish fingerling production and directly benefit the growing industry which supports the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and their families at home.”

ANSTO’s sophisticated nuclear technology is used to explore the interactions of isotopes and elements  and analyse data.  Joshua applied the techniques to assess the nutritional requirements and growth rate of fish by recording their weight and length twice a month, while trialling types of feed administered  at different rates. 

Joshua’s studies and training has been supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) with a John Allwright Fellowship based at UNSW, The Crawford Fund, and ANSTO Industry Foundations Scholarship.