Maximising on the Benefits of Trochus

Maximising on the benefits of Trochus

Dr Steve Purcell disucsses Samoa’s new trochus fishery

Dr Steve Purcell - Maximising on the benefits of Trochus

Trochus is one of the largest marine snails. It's actually a herbivore, so it feeds on algae on the reef. About 15-years ago, Australia's foreign aid program introduced Trochus from Fiji and Vanuatu to Samoa to try and develop a fishery for the snail that has been so valuable in so many other countries.

Here at Southern Cross University we have staff and facilities for a wide range of marine science research so the project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and it's a partnership between Southern Cross University and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Samoa to look at how these populations of this snail have been established on reefs and the benefits accrued to people in the villages.

So far in Samoa the people are only benefiting from the sale of the meat and eating it themselves so the shell which traditionally has been the main value of the animal is really underutilised.

So the four components of the project are firstly some ecological studies to look at where populations have been set up on the reefs.

Secondly to train people into how to make jewellery and polished shells from the shells that they're collecting and thirdly to conduct some socio-economic surveys to understand the benefits that people are making from harvesting the shells and lastly to look at the potential to export the shell and what sort of management regulations they might need to sustain the fishery

We have a graduate research student Kate Seinor working on the project and this has provided her with a great opportunity to develop skills in marine science research and also experience in working with partners overseas.

Our research so far has shown that the fishery has been successfully developed in Samoa. Our next stage of research will be looking at the socio-economic impacts to see how are people benefiting from those introductions.