UOG Sea Grant and community garden partnership finds expanded uses for aquaculture

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By Milthon Lujan

USA – A new partnership between UOG Sea Grant and Island Girl Power highlights an integrated approach to aquaculture, zero-waste, and food sustainability.  

This month, Sea Grant installed its first community-based recirculating aquaculture system at the Kurason Ysengsong Community Garden at the IGP compound in Dededo.  

At the site, Sea Grant aquaculture extension associate David Crisostomo guided several members of the G3 Conservation Corps and nonprofit staff as they put together the components of the system.  

Crisostomo said the recirculating aquaculture system‘s specific components — from the fish tank to the biofiltration system — are essential in maintaining the water quality required for the fish and plants to thrive. 

He also emphasized the training component of the program. “Once we get them (IGP staff) trained in the basics, then they will reach out to their clientele and other partners in the community and do some training sessions with them. We see that as a train the trainer thing. So, there will be a core group here in Dededo that can do some training around their community and maybe some other nonprofits in the area.” 

Crisostomo said the participants would be trained in water quality assessment, aquaculture operations, raising tilapia, among other topics.  

IGP established the Kurason Ysengsong Community Garden project in 2014 to provide families an opportunity to grow and consume fresh produce.  

Barbara Burkhardt, Kurason Ysengsong community garden manager, said the garden offers a variety of food crops, including native plants. She said the nonprofit plans to organize workshops specializing in the preparation of these food crops. 

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According to Juanita Blaz, Island Girl Power director, the new aquaculture system complements the project since the fish waste will be diverted to the garden plots. “We are excited about getting the fertilizer from the aquaponics setup. And all the food plants that she described will benefit from that added fertilizer,” she said.  

Blaz said the workshops could be a catalyst for more people who want to learn about aquaponics. 

“We are so excited about the work with the community and being able to showcase food sustainability at its very core. And teach how to grow and how to process native plants and cook recipes with the young girls that are in the program as well as the community at large,” Blaz said. 

Through UOG Sea Grant’s funding and technical support, six recirculating aquaculture systems or RAS will be installed at several mayors’ offices and nonprofit partner locations. UOG Sea Grant will also provide basic infrastructure support, workforce development, and capacity-building to participants selected by the partner village or nonprofit.    

While starting small with just a few multi-sectoral partners, Sea Grant plans to extend the program to other groups in the future.  

The promotion of aquaculture moves the Guam Green Growth Action Framework forward in addressing Goal 14 (Life Below Water) of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to conserve and sustainably use the ocean and marine resources for development. In addition, sustainable and long-term growth in the aquaculture industry could also contribute to achieving Goals 2 (Zero Hunger) and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) of the UN SDGs.  

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Source: University of Guam 

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