Category Archives: Biology & Life History

New software tool from Evonik improves tilapia aquaculture

Evonik launches new service AMINOTilapia® for aquaculture

Genetics roadmap to develop more resilient farmed fish

WorldFish will embark on new research to create more resilient fish with characteristics such as disease resistance and more effective feed utilization. Based on a roadmap developed with world experts at a WorldFish-hosted fish breeding workshop on 23–24 May at The Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, the research will use advanced techniques such as genomic selection to introduce these characteristics into its improved tilapia strains.

Since 1988, WorldFish has used selective breeding to develop and manage the fast-growing Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) strain. The strain has been disseminated to at least 16 countries, mostly in the developing world, and is grown by millions of small-scale fish farmers for food, income and nutrition across the globe.

Harvested GIFT Tilapia (Credit: Worldfish)

Harvested GIFT Tilapia (Credit: Worldfish)

Use of genomic selection tools, which enable the selection of animals based on genetic markers, will allow WorldFish to expand its GIFT research beyond a growth-only focus and introduce selection for characteristics that are otherwise difficult to measure, such as resilience and feed efficiency. Genomic selection has enabled a step change in the rate of genetic improvement of terrestrial livestock, and has the potential to do the same in fish.

Expansion of GIFT research is a key part of the CGIAR Research Program on fish (FISH) and supports WorldFish efforts under its sustainable aquaculture program to increase the productivity of small-scale aquaculture to meet growing global demand for fish.

John Benzie, Program Leader, Sustainable Aquaculture, WorldFish: “Incorporating new traits in the breeding program for GIFT will help fish farmers prepare for future challenges such as climate change and increasing evidence of disease risks. This will particularly benefit farmers in Africa and Asia, where tilapia is critical for food security yet farmers often have limited access to improved fish breeds suited to local conditions.”

Ross Houston, Group Leader, The Roslin Institute: “Aquaculture production needs to increase by 40 percent by 2030 to meet global demands for fish. Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) is arguably the world’s most important food fish, and plays a key role in tackling rural poverty in developing countries. The innovations in genetic improvement mapped out in this workshop are an important step toward achieving these ambitious goals.”

Attendees of the workshop included experts from WorldFish’s Malaysian and Egyptian bases, The Roslin Institute, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, The University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, the Earlham Institute, CIRAD and the Animal Breeding and Genetics group of Wageningen University and Research.

The roadmap will feed into a strategy for the genetic improvement and dissemination of GIFT seed in Africa, the further development of which will take place at the Genetics Network meeting being hosted by WorldFish at the World Aquaculture 2017 conference in Cape Town on 26–30 June.

For more information or to request an interview contact:

Toby Johnson, Head of Communications
Mobile Tel: +60 (0) 175 124 606
Email: t.johnson@cgiar.org
Web: worldfishcenter.org
Photography: flickr.com/photos/theworldfishcenter/

About WorldFish
WorldFish is an international, nonprofit research organization that harnesses the potential of fisheries and aquaculture to reduce hunger and poverty. Globally, more than one billion poor people obtain most of their animal protein from fish and 800 million depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods. WorldFish is a member of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future.

About CGIAR
CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research Centers that are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partners.

Adding Value to African Aquaculture Production

BioMar Group has an increasing presence in Africa and is now launching a complete high performing range for tilapia and African catfish for African markets.

Africa is a continent with huge demands for more food, produced in a responsible and sustainable way. “We believe that aquaculture is one of the answers to this demand”, said Ole Christensen, Vice President for BioMar’s EMEA division. “BioMar Group has ambitious targets and initiatives for shaping an efficient and sustainable global aquaculture in collaboration with the entire aquaculture value chain.”

In recent years, the growth of African catfish and tilapia farming has increased particularly in the African markets. For many years, BioMar has served the African markets from France by offering high performing starter and grower diets for these species. As farms become increasingly intensive, the need for a diet targeted for broodstock has grown. To meet this demand, BioMar France now expands its product range to cover all nutritional needs of these species at all stages of their life cycle by introducing broodstock feed type EFICO Genio 838F, available for all tilapia and African catfish farmers in Africa and other markets served by BioMar’s EMEA division.

As in Africa, tilapia is also a popular aquaculture species in Central America. Cross-utilising knowledge and expertise in aquafeed across borders and continents is one of BioMar’s important strengths, and it was central in developing BioMar’s feed range for tilapia. Global R&D at BioMar has in close collaboration with our unit in Costa Rica carried out research on this species and developed high value feed types, which have been fine-tuned by working in close collaboration with an intensive tilapia farm.

Tilapia in net (credit Biomar)

“The goal of broodstock feed EFICO Genio 838F is to increase reproduction capacity”, said Michel Autin, Technical Director of BioMar EMEA. “The vitamin mix and levels are fine-tuned to promote an increase in the number of females actively spawning.  Our newly developed broodstock feed has a formulation that includes the necessary protein and vitamin balances, which contributes to increased spawning frequency, hatchability, and survival of fry.“ The EFICO Genio 838F includes the probiotic Bactocell®* and immune modulating ingredients similar to BioMar’s EFICO Genio broodstock feeds for trout, sea bass and sea bream to improve survival and boost the immune system.

“These efforts have been of great value to the development of the feeds offered by BioMar for warm freshwater fish like tilapia and African catfish”, said Michel Autin. “And now we can, for the first time, provide a broodstock diet that is specialized for warm freshwater fish whose natural diet is largely plant based.”

African aquaculture production is expanding in various ways and into various species. BioMar’s presence in Africa steadily grows. The markets served by BioMar are not limited to tilapia and catfish. “We have for many years also supplied feed to a growing number of sea bass and sea bream farms based in Northern African countries. We aim to add value to African aquaculture production. We listen to and react based on the needs of our customers as we want to act as a locally responsive, agile, and specialized aquaculture feed provider, building our efforts on the four fundamental pillars: Innovation, Performance, Sustainability, and Cooperation,” Ole Christensen concluded.

* Bactocell® is the only probiotic approved by the European Commission for inclusion in fish feed.

For further information please contact:

Vice President, BioMar EMEA Division

Ole Christensen
Email: och@biomar.com

Technical Director, BioMar EMEA Division

Michel Autin
Email: michel.autin@biomar.fr

Tilapia lake virus (TiLV): What to know and do?

Tilapia lake virus is a newly emerging virus that is associated with significant mortalities in farmed tilapia. With cases reported across Africa, Asia and South America, the virus represents a huge risk to the USD 7.5 billion global tilapia industry. All countries with a tilapia industry must be vigilant and act quickly to investigate cases of mortalities in farm.
Published by the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-food Systems.

Scientists identify tilapia lake virus in Egypt

A new virus that has decimated tilapia populations in Ecuador and Israel has now been found in Egypt according to a new report from WorldFish in partnership with the University of Stirling, Scotland. Scientists are now trying to establish a firm link between the virus and a recent surge in mortalities in Egyptian farmed tilapia.

Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) is a global threat to the tilapia farming industry worth US$7.5bn per year.

In recent years fish farms in Egypt have seen increased mortality of farmed tilapia in the summer months, so-called “summer mortality”. Epidemiological surveys indicated that 37% of fish farms were affected in 2015 with an average mortality rate of 9.2% and an estimated economic impact of around US$100 million/year.

Identifying the cause of and preventing these fish deaths is of significant importance in Egypt, which relies on domestic aquaculture for 60% of fish consumed with tilapia making up 75% of that production. Tilapia is the cheapest form of animal protein in the country, so the findings have significant implications for the Egyptian people, particularly poorer consumers. The Egyptian aquaculture sector is the largest producer of farmed fish in Africa (1.17 million tonnes in 2015) and the third largest global producer of farmed tilapia after China and Indonesia.

Tissue samples from seven farms affected by ‘summer mortality’ were tested at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture for TiLV with three of the seven samples testing positive.

Dr Michael Phillips, Director of Science and Aquaculture, WorldFish: “Tilapia were previously considered to have good disease resistance. While the report and the emergence of TiLV will likely not dent the species’ significance in global aquaculture it is a sign that greater efforts must be made to manage disease risks in tilapia farming. Research now needs to focus on finding solutions for this emerging challenge to the world’s tilapia farms.”

“Globally, there is no aquaculture system that is free from the risk of disease,” explains virologist Professor Manfred Weidmann from the University of Stirling. “Unless we are able to manage disease, minimize its impact, and bring down the prevalence and incidence of diseases we will not be able to meet future demand for fish.”

WorldFish scientists in collaboration with the University of Stirling will now work to establish whether TiLV is the primary cause of ‘summer mortality’ and, if that is the case, recommend rapid action to control the spread of the disease, including increased biosecurity in the short term. Longer-term strategies being studied by WorldFish and partners include vaccines and the genetics of disease resistance, that may open the way towards breeding of strains of tilapia that are resilient to TiLV.

Tilapia is an important species for aquaculture because it can be grown in diverse farming systems and is omnivorous, requiring minimal fishmeal in its feed. It has a naturally high tolerance to variable water quality and can grow in both freshwater and brackishwater environments. Tilapia are particularly important in developing world contexts where they are inexpensive and easy for small-scale farmers to grow for food, nutrition and income.

About WorldFish
WorldFish is an international, nonprofit research organization that harnesses the potential of fisheries and aquaculture to reduce hunger and poverty. Globally, more than one billion poor people obtain most of their animal protein from fish and 800 million depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods. WorldFish is a member of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future.

About CGIAR
CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research Centers that are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partners.

University of Stirling
The University of Stirling is ranked fifth in Scotland and 40th in the UK for research intensity in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Stirling is committed to providing education with a purpose and carrying out research which has a positive impact on communities across the globe – addressing real issues, providing solutions and helping to shape society.