Thursday, December 15, 2016

15/12/2016: Tilapia in India

By Dr B. Laxmappa, Department of Fisheries, India. 

Increased wild catches and local consumption

Tilapia belongs to the family Cichlidae under order Perciformes. Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus is a relatively large cichlid fish, which is introduced to several countries where its populations exist outside its natural range e.g. Brazil, Australia, Bangladesh, Srilanka and India.

Tilapia is now the World’s second most popular group of farmed fish after carp. Worldwide production exceeded 3.9 million tonnes in 2012 according to FAO and demand continues at a steady pace.

Geographically tilapias are the most wide spread species for aquaculture production in the world.

Present status
India is a vast country in terms of natural resources and considered one of the mega-biodiversity countries in the world.

The Indian mainland is served by 15 major, 45 medium and over 120 minor rivers; besides numerous ephemeral streams. The diverse river system in India harbour one of the richest fish germplasm resources in the world.

Official records show that O. mossambicus was first introduced to India from Srilanka in 1952 and thereafter stocked in several reservoirs of southern India for production enhancement. The O. niloticus was introduced to India during late 1987.

The aquaculture of O. niloticus expanded in the southern region of the country, a phenomena that owes much to private entrepreneurs. Culture of O.niloticus, particularly in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal is now gearing up and the fish is now distributed to many states particularly the coastal areas.

Cultivated tilapias are typically hybrids between the O.niloticus and other closely related species native to Africa.

O. niloticus are one of the easiest and profitable fish to farm, in part because they are omnivorous and can be fed a diet derived exclusively from plants.

O.niloticus and other fish that feed on vegetable materials offer a much more ecologically sound and environmentally friendly means of providing humankind with an abundance of nutritious and delicious fish.

Escapement of tilapia from aquaculture facilities due to recurring floods or inadvertent releases have happened frequently. Tilapia now forms a part of fish fauna in the Godavari, Krishna, Cauvery, Yamuna and Ganga Rivers.

Tilapia catch trends
Recently, tilapia catches have increased with local species declining significantly in wild waters. Presently in many rivers, particularly the Ganga River and Krishna River system, the proportion of tilapia production is about 10-48 percent of the total fish species.

In river fed tanks and ponds, reservoirs/lakes wild tilapia contribution ranged from 15-65 percent. However, the tilapia population is now considered to be an infestation in most of the water bodies in India, and now pose a major threat to the indigenous species and biodiversity in India.

There is a great deal of unpublished data about the availability of tilapia in tanks, reservoirs and rivers of many states of India.

Read the full article HERE.

The Aquaculturists
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