Hatchery opening signals future for aquaculture in Timor-Leste

5 minutes read

Timor-Leste today saw the unveiling of a new hatchery considered a crucial part of its National Aquaculture Development Strategy (2012–2030), which aims to reduce undernourishment by increasing per capita consumption of fish from 6 to 15 kg by 2020.

As part of the USD 4 million ‘Partnership for Aquaculture Development in Timor-Leste’ project, the hatchery for Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) was inaugurated by H. E. Estanislau da Silva, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Ambassador of New Zealand, Jonathan Schwass.

GIFT was first supplied to Timor-Leste in April 2015 when 10,200 brood stock were sent from WorldFish Headquarters, Penang Malaysia to the Gleno Fish Hatchery in Ermera. In parallel the construction and refurbishment of the new hatchery at Gleno was undertaken, with work completed in December 2015 and operations starting from early January 2016.

WorldFish developed the GIFT strain, which thrives in a wide range of environments and can grow 50-80% faster than other strains of non-improved fish. It is currently produced in 14 countries, requires no antibiotics and has a lower carbon footprint than either beef or pork. From a nutritional point of view it is an affordable source of heart friendly omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients that are vital for childhood development and pregnant mothers.

In view of the need to make this a sustainable enterprise, emphasis is given to capacity building and together with the Asian Institute of Technology and WorldFish, a business plan has been developed. Now the hatchery has the potential of producing up to 5 million fish fry per year. Fry can, in turn, be supplied to support Timor-Leste’s burgeoning aquaculture industry and proceeds can be ploughed back into the hatchery for running costs and development.

Its systematic brood stock management and fingerling production system underpins a key aim of the new hatchery, which is to maintain the genetic integrity of the brood stock thereby ensuring that the inherent productivity gains are preserved.

Ambassador of New Zealand, Jonathan Schwass: “Aquaculture is one of New Zealand’s most important areas of activity in Timor-Leste. It has the potential to dramatically increase the amount of protein available to families, and help farmers improve the viability of their businesses.”

H. E. Estanislau da Silva, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries: “Aquaculture development is one of the top priorities for this government. And tilapia, in particular, holds great potential because of its versatility, nutritional qualities and potential to address the availability of fish, in particular for resource poor communities.”

Director General, WorldFish, Nigel Preston: “Timor-Leste has in place an ambitious business plan to build the aquaculture sector and this hatchery will play a pivotal role in the supply of good quality brood stock and seed that will ensure that some of those key goals can be met. With aquaculture providing such promise in improving food and nutrition security for the Timorese, WorldFish remains fully committed to supporting the growth of the sector.”

The New Zealand Aid Programme funded ‘Partnership for Aquaculture Development in Timor-Leste’ project has been and will continue working to develop the Timor-Leste fish farming industry, carry out training, improve planning, develop seed and feed supply systems and help to connect fish growers to markets. The project is led by the National Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture (NDFA) with assistance from New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA), WorldFish, and Tisbe.

For more information or to request an interview contact:

Toby Johnson, Head of Communications
Mobile Tel: +60 (0) 175 124 606
Email: t.johnson@cgiar.org
Web: worldfishcenter.org
Photography: flickr.com/photos/theworldfishcenter/

In Timor-Leste: Horacio Guterres, Director, NDA/MAF
Mobile: + Email: Falcaonapoleao@gmail.com
Mobile: +67077306061


The National Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture (NDFA) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) is the government department responsible for planning and management of Timor-Leste’s fisheries and aquaculture. NDFA is playing a lead role in this project, dedicating both staff and resources to maximize the benefits that can be achieved through aquaculture development in Timor-Leste

About the New Zealand Aid Programme

The New Zealand Aid Programme is the New Zealand Government's international aid and development programme managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Its mission is to support sustainable development in developing countries in order to reduce poverty and contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world. The aid programme focuses on stimulating sustainable economic development and has a geographic focus on the Pacific region.

About NIWA

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is a New Zealand Crown Research Institute. Its mission is to conduct leading environmental science. NIWA runs the National Centre for Aquaculture, which has New Zealand’s largest team of aquaculture specialists applying their extensive knowledge and practical experience of scientific issues to marine farming.

About WorldFish

WorldFish is an international, nonprofit research organization that harnesses the potential of fisheries and aquaculture to reduce hunger and poverty. Globally, more than one billion poor people obtain most of their animal protein from fish and 800 million depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods. WorldFish is a member of CGIAR, a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future.


CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research centers who are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations.

About Tisbe

Tisbe Ltd is a New Zealand based independent consultancy service. Tisbe provides advice and support for aquaculture development. It specializes in farming system development and design, identifying and supporting new development opportunities, aquaculture planning and strategies, and sustainable production practices.