Cage culture of Nile Tilapia opposed

Published - July 10, 2014 09:33 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram:

The Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) has expressed strong reservations about a proposal mooted by the Fisheries Department to promote cage culture of Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) in waterbodies in the State. At a meeting held here last week, experts from the KSBB, the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, and the College of Fisheries, Panangad, voiced their concern about the impact of the alien species on native biodiversity. A genetically improved strain of the Nile Tilapia, GIFT is preferred by aquaculture farmers in many countries because of its quick growth and adaptability to various environmental conditions.

S. Ajayan, Joint Director of Fisheries, said the proposal was to promote cage culture of GIFT in reservoirs, check-dams, rivers and lakes. It involved selective breeding of Nile Tilapia. He said a trial project done by Matsyafed had proved to be a success.

KSBB chairman Oommen V. Oommen said the board was opposed to cage culture of GIFT in connected waterbodies because of the inherent risks. Experts fear that the accidental release of stocks could result in hybridisation with existing species and competitive exclusion of native fishes from their habitat. The KSBB has insisted on regulated aquaculture in isolated cement tanks. It has proposed an expert committee to monitor the project. K.P. Laladhas, Member Secretary, KSBB, said the mass production and culture of the endemic pearl spot would be more desirable. “In the absence of a proper assessment of the invasive potential of Nile Tilapia, the proposal is fraught with risks,” said K.G. Padmakumar, former Associate Director of Research, Kerala Agricultural University.

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