Thursday, February 15, 2018

16/02/2018: Tilapia: Miracle fish (part 1)

by Ramon Kourie, Chief Technical Officer, SustAqua Fish Farms (Pty) Ltd.,

In the space of 25 years global farmed tilapia production has risen from obscurity to become one of the most important farmed fish species from less than 398,000 tonnes in 1991 to a predicted global production of 6.4 million metric tonnes (MMT) in 2017

Projections indicate an expected growth of 2.6 percent in 2018 to 6.5 MMT, significantly lower than the average growth rate of 12 percent over the period from 2002 to 2012.

Most of the global production of tilapia is produced in freshwater pond systems and consumed in producing countries contributing to food security in the developing world where the sector is concentrated. China is the leading producer country followed by Egypt and Indonesia. Production estimates in 2017 have been pegged at 1.7 MMT for China, almost 900,000 metric tonnes (MT) for Egypt and 800,000 MT for Indonesia.

Surprisingly, less than seven percent of global tilapia production is internationally traded, the majority of which supplies growing markets in the United States and more recently Africa. Nevertheless, leading industry experts in Norway are optimistic and see tilapia fillets more broadly making inroads into global whitefish markets in developed countries at competitive prices. Whitefish is a market-oriented term categorising white fleshed, non-oily fish where fat reserves are typically in the liver and not in the flesh and guts. Core wild captured whitefish include cod, Pollack, hake, hoki and saithe species and core farmed whitefish include tilapia, pangasius, catfish, cobia and meagre.

Tilapia are the most widely cultivated of all species with more than 120 countries reporting some commercial activity. In addition, tilapia are cultivated in the highest number of production environments from rice paddies and simple fertilised earth ponds to cages in lakes, aquaponics systems, biofloc technology (BFT) tanks and Recirculation Aquaculture Systems (RAS) and are considered easy to cultivate.

The progressive expansion of tilapia aquaculture globally can be divided into three phases each marked by technological advances driven by research since the 1980’s.

Read the full article, HERE.

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