John Gartner: First Harvest of Fish, Emmaus Farm, PNG

One of the students is in the water keeping the outlet clear and the strainer over the outlet so we don’t lose any fish. The other boys and a few visitors are standing around or sitting watching proceedings.
The water outlet stand pipe prior to its removal. Running water has a hypnotic effect on these two students who didn’t even move after the flash.
The drain inside the fish pond.
The first fish. The students were so anxious they dropped it more than once. But it recovered to go into a bucket and then the 200 litre drum.
Who wouldn’t be proud of a catch like this? A good pan size fish weighing at a guess about 500 grams.
One of the students is using a hand net to try and catch a fish.

Today, 1 June 2011, we harvested the first fish from the fish pond at Emmaus Farm.

The pond was constructed during 2010 and stocked with about 50 Tilapia fingerlings in November. Since then they have been allowed to grow. They have been feed a mixture of chicken stock feed, special fish meal, that the students helped make at the Department of Agriculture Research Station and white ants.

During the growing period, the fish went from fingerlings which weighed next to nothing to weighing about 500 grams, though none were actually weighed. One of the fingerlings died relatively early in the period and about two weeks ago an adult size fish also died. This led to a decision to set about harvesting the fish pond.

The fish pond is firstly drained by removing the outlet pipe so that the water is able to drain from the lowest parts, in addition when the pressure reduces the upstand on the discharge pipe in the drain is also removed. It takes about 1 and ½ hours for the water level to drop. Then the students climbed into the pond with hand nets and caught the fish. They were temporarily stored in a 200 litre drum so they remained alive and ready for transportation.

The water became muddy when I left. He one of the students is using a hand net to try and catch a fish, it was becoming harder because of the muddy water, but the boys were adept at seeing the little eddies the fish produced as they tried to swim away.

While the students had lots of fun catching the fish, a number of changes will be required to make the exercise less demanding and easier to undertake. The first is an easier way to catch the fish. In this regard a larger net of about 25 mm mesh size with a weighted bottom should be purchased to trawl through the water. The second is to provide a better drainage screen that doesn’t become blocked. This could easily be made from a length of PVC pipe with many 6 mm holes drilled all the way down its length. It could be inserted once outlet pipe was removed. These should all be accommodated at relatively inexpensive prices.

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