In profile: Joshua Noiney, Masters student

UNSW BEES Masters Student Joshua Noiney in the laboratory

Joshua Takavong Noiney was drawn to water throughout his childhood. He grew up near the Zogozoguka River in Goroka, Papua New Guinea, and spent countless hours fishing and diving in the river with spears. His fascination with fish grew each time he pulled a trout out of the water, laying the foundation for him to pursue a fulfilling career in fisheries.

Joshua’s Masters in Philosophy at the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences focuses specifically on a different type of fish he was introduced to later in life while studying for his degree in Fisheries and Marine Science: the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Specifically, Joshua is assessing the growth performance of mono-sex Nile tilapia under different feeding regimes in the cool-climate Eastern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea.

With many farmers in Papua New Guinea venturing into semi-commercial and commercial scale fish farming, the project has the potential to increase fish fingerling production and directly benefit the growing industry which supports the livelihoods of hundreds of farmers and their families.

The Nile tilapia strain that will be studied is the Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT), which Joshua says will be influenced to become mono-sex after hatching by using sex-reversal technology.

UNSW BEES Masters Student Joshua Noiney undertaking research in Papua New Guinea

“For this study, male tilapia are desirable than female tilapia because male fish convert feed directly to tissue whilst female fish convert much of their energy into egg production,” says Joshua.

Tilapia also have a superior growth rate, low reproductive rate and the ability survive under harsh conditions – making them making them an ideal species to farm.

“Together these qualities mean a faster turnaround time, little risk of overpopulation and minimal management requirements,” says Joshua.

Joshua research is being undertaken in collaboration with the Australian National Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)—whose sophisticated nuclear technology will be utilised to analyse data. He will assess the growth rate of fish by recording their weight and length twice a month, while trialling types of feed, being supplied at different rates. 

It is imperative that we can grasp an understanding on the growth rate of Nile tilapia and the best feeding regime so that local farmers can maximise profits and better themselves

Joshua Noiney, Masters Student, UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science

Joshua was part of a contingent that visited UNSW in December 2017 as part of a collaborative research project that was conducted in Papua New Guinea. That ACIAR-funded inland aquaculture project, was led by Joshua’s now-supervisor, Dr Jes Sammut. And Joshua is now sponsored by ACIAR under a John Allwright Fellowship.

Of his 2017 visit, Joshua said, “For me, visiting the state-of-the-art facilities at UNSW Sydney ignited a desire to pursue my post-graduate here.”

“I’ve enjoyed the diversity in student and courses and courses and the opportunity to be supervised by Associate Professor Jesmond Sammut and Dr. Debashish. Mazumder,” says Joshua. 

When he finishes his studies, Joshua intends to return to Papua New Guinea and apply the skills and knowledge he has gained to improve peoples’ lives and contribute to the advancement of fish farming in Papua New Guinea.

For now, he says, his Masters project is an important step on that journey.

It is imperative that we can grasp an understanding on the growth rate of Nile tilapia and the best feeding regime so that local farmers can maximise profits and better themselves.”

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