Published on 4th October 2016
Rob Algar and Janna Haan are a couple assigned to Papua New Guinea’s National Fishing College. Janna’s working on aquaponics - a technique that combines aquaculture with hydroponics - in an assignment that will help increase resilience and food security. Rob’s building capacity in PNG's fishing industry by training commercial fishers to work more efficiently and safely.
“I’m teaching people to grow vegetables mostly,” says Janna, “and there are a lot of suitable freshwater fish in PNG that can be used as part of the system.”
Janna first came to PNG as Rob’s accompanying partner but wasted no time finding a project to work on, “On the first day there I went to the college looking for something I could help with and met my eventual counterpart, Philomena,” says Janna. “I spent the first six months figuring out what was needed, and the next five putting together the teaching course.”
“Now I’ve built a working model, and a larger one is almost complete.”
Meanwhile Rob has been advising on just about everything to do with commercial fishing, from maintenance, to seafaring, to at-sea firefighting.
“It’s a really varied sort of a job, I’m basically here as an advisor to give them a hand,” he says.” Every day is different, every day is a challenge - I don’t have an office and any given day I could be anywhere doing anything.”
“For example we’ve just completed a survey of PNG's coral atolls researching the Beche-der-mer (sea cucumber) stocks, next week I’m teaching students firefighting and safety at sea, and the week after that it’s with students, aboard the FTV Pokajam, longlining for Yellowfin tuna.”
With the end of his assignment coming up next month, Rob is glad to have spent time in PNG. “It’s just been a valuable and rewarding experience just to work with these guys - we’ve learned a lot of stuff from each other,” he says. “We're gonna miss these guys. You spend time at sea, have a laugh and a joke, battle rough weather and you become close friends - I’m gonna be sad to go.”