Category Archives: Sustainable Culture

FAO issues alert over lethal virus affecting popular tilapia fish

Though not a human health risk, Tilapia Lake Virus has large potential impact on global food security and nutrition

26 May 2017, Rome–A highly contagious disease is spreading among farmed and wild tilapia, one of the world’s most important fish for human consumption.

The outbreak should be treated with concern and countries importing tilapias should take appropriate risk-management measures – intensifying diagnostics testing, enforcing health certificates, deploying quarantine measures and developing contingency plans – according to a Special Alert released today by FAO’s Global Information and Early Warnings System.

Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) has now been reported in five countries on three continents: Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel and Thailand.

While the pathogen poses no public health concern, it can decimate infected populations. In 2015, world tilapia production, from both aquaculture and capture, amounted to 6.4 million tonnes, with an estimated value of USD 9.8 billion, and worldwide trade was valued at USD1.8 billion. The fish is a mainstay of global food security and nutrition, GIEWS said.

Joyce Makaka tends her FAO-assisted fish farm in western Kenya.

Joyce Makaka tends her FAO-assisted fish farm in western Kenya.

Tilapia producing countries need to be vigilant, and should follow aquatic animal-health code protocols of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) when trading tilapia. They should initiate an active surveillance programme to determine the presence or absence of TiLV, the geographic extent of the infection and identify risk factors that may help contain it.

Countries are encouraged also to launch public information campaigns to advise aquaculturists – many of them smallholders – of TiLV’s clinical signs and the economic and social risks it poses and the need to flag large-scale mortalities to biosecurity authorities.

Currently, actively TiLV surveillance is being conducted in China, India, Indonesia and it is planned to start in the Philippines. In Israel, an epidemiological retrospective survey is expected to determine factors influencing low survival rates and overall mortalities including relative importance of TiLV. In addition, a private company is currently working on the development of live attenuated vaccine for TiLV.

It is not currently known whether the disease can be transmitted via frozen tilapia products, but “it is likely that TiLV may have a wider distribution than is known today and its threat to tilapia farming at the global level is significant,” GIEWS said in its alert.

FAO will continue to monitor TiLV, work with governments and development partners and search for resources that can be explored in order to assist FAO member countries to deal with TiLV, as requested and as necessary.

The disease

There are many knowledge gaps linked to TiLV.

More research is required to determine whether TiLV is carried by non-tilapine species and other organisms such as piscivorous birds and mammals, and whether it can be transmitted through frozen tilapia products.

The disease shows highly variable mortality, with outbreaks in Thailand triggering the deaths of up to 90 percent of stocks. Infected fish often show loss of appetite, slow movements, dermal lesions and ulcers, ocular abnormalities, and opacity of lens.As a reliable diagnostic test for TiLV is available, it should be applied to rule out TiLV as the causal agent of unexplained mortalities.

TiLV belongs to the Orthomyxoviridae family of viruses, which is also the same family to which the Infectious Salmon Anaemia virus belongs, which wrought great damage on the salmon farming industry.

In May 2017, The Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) released a TiLV Disease Advisory and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) released a Disease Card. The WorldFish Center also released a Factsheet: TiLV: what to know and do, this month.

The importance of tilapia

Tilapias are the second most important aquaculture species in volume termsproviding food, jobs and domestic and export earnings for millions of people, including many smallholders.

Their affordable price, omnivorous diet, tolerance to high-density farming methods and usually strong resistance to disease makes them an important protein source, especially in developing countries and for poorer consumers.

China, Indonesia and Egypt are the three leading aquaculture producers of tilapia, a fish deemed to have great potential for expansion in sub-Saharan Africa.

Contact

Christopher Emsden
FAO Media Relations (Rome)
(+39) 06 570 53291
christopher.emsden@fao.org

 

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

Double fish production while preserving biodiversity — can it be done?

Tanzania, perhaps best known for safaris over its vast open plains, has ambitious plans for diminutive freshwater wildlife with enormous, untapped potential.

Tilapia, second only to carp as the world’s most frequently farmed fish, live in huge numbers in the Great Lakes (Victoria, Tanganyika, Malawi/Nyasa) that cover six percent of the country. The lakes are considered a global biodiversity hotspot – one of only 25 worldwide – due to the hundreds of species of cichlid fish, including some of the 30-odd known subspecies of tilapia that are found in Tanzania.

However, Tanzanians eat on average only 8kg of fish per year, less than half the international average of 17kg. Around a third of children under five are deficient in iron and vitamin A, contributing to stunting, while about a third of women between 15-49 years old are deficient in iron, vitamin A and iodine.

Fish also provide nutrients in a more efficient way than other sources of animal protein because they convert more of their food into body mass. Some types, such as tilapia, are particularly attractive because they can be reared largely on inexpensive vegetable matter and agricultural waste, while many of the fish species reared in the developed world have to be fed on fish meal.

At the moment, tilapia farming in Tanzania is mostly for subsistence or for small-scale markets and often uses non-native species, such as Nile tilapia. Around half of the world’s tilapia species are native to Tanzania, but 99% of commercial production is currently in China, Honduras and the US.

Jennifer Shepperson with Oreochromis species. Shepperson is a Research Project Support Officer at the School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University (Credit: Tarang Mehta, Earlham Institute)

Jennifer Shepperson with Oreochromis species. Shepperson is a Research Project Support Officer at the School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University (Credit: Tarang Mehta, Earlham Institute)

To develop an aquaculture strategy for Tanzania, 30 scientists representing Tanzanian stakeholders as well as international research organisations met for a three-day workshop in Zanzibar. The meeting was funded by the Swedish “Agriculture for Food Security 2030” (AgriFoSe) program and jointly organised by University of Dar Es Salaam, Worldfish Malaysia, and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Participation of scientists from Bangor University and Earlham Institute was supported by a BBSRC award from the Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF).

The main outcome of this workshop was a new consortium between the partners, committed to establishing a National Aquaculture Development Centre (NADC). The NADC could help triple the contribution that aquaculture makes to the economy, double the production of fish in the country by 2025 and improve access to fish as a protein source – especially for women.

Tilapia species from a broad range of ecosystems – including lakes, river systems, reservoirs and fish ponds across the country – will form the focus of the research. Genetic analysis of 31 species, including 26 that are found nowhere else on the planet, could reveal important traits for creating the country’s own commercial broodstock.

Using native species could also help secure the nation’s biodiversity. For example, it eliminates the risk of non-native strains escaping and hybridising with wild species. One species, Singida tilapia, is virtually extinct in its natural habitat since Nile tilapia and perch were introduced in the 1950s.

Lessons learned from the worldwide aquaculture industry, which in 2013 overtook beef production, will help ensure that sustainable practices are adopted from the start. Tanzania’s unique tilapia could become as valuable as the country’s gold but with more people able to experience the benefits more equally.

Yohana Budeba, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF), United Republic of Tanzania, says: “Tanzania attained a GDP per capita of USD 1,043 by 2014 and it is considered to be at the threshold of graduating from Low to Middle Income Country (MIC) by 2025 when the GDP per capita is expected to reach USD 3,000 (nominal)(NFYDP II, 2016). To realize this, Tanzanians must work hard to achieve the development aspirations articulated in the Tanzania Development Vision 2015. The agricultural sector, which supports more that 70% of the national economy, is well placed to contribute significantly to the expected rise in the GDP per capita. The Fisheries sub-sector currently contributes 4.5% of the national GDP and this contribution is expected to rise with the development of semi-intensive and intensive aquaculture in the country. The Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries, therefore takes this opportunity to welcome the Zanzibar Resolution on Aquaculture Development in Tanzania and the international support to aquaculture development in the country. We hope that this support will spur aquaculture development and bring tangible benefits to the country’s economy.”

Charles Mahika, Director of the Aquaculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF), United Republic of Tanzania, says: “We have a chance to increase our country’s share in aquaculture’s blue revolution, an industry growing faster than any other food-production sector in the world. Tilapia production could help meet the nutritional demands of our growing population in a sustainable way as well providing a surplus for export. Tapping our own rich diversity will reduce our dependence on external markets, increase food security and make the final product more appealing to Tanzanian consumers. We aim to triple the contribution of aquaculture to GDP from 1.4% to 4.2% by 2025.”

Federica Di Palma, Director of Science, Earlham Institute (EI), says: “By sharing the results of genetic analysis and helping to build expertise, we can make a real contribution to helping to grow a national industry. A Tanzanian aquaculture seed bank could also be valued by breeders worldwide, for example by offering strains adapted to harsh environments. I am grateful to our Global Research Challenge fund awarded by BBSRC, which have allowed us to contribute to this amazing effort and lay the foundations for aquaculture development in Tanzania. It has been an inspiring and humbling experience to be part of this endeavour.”

George Turner, School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University, says: “I have been studying cichlid fishes for over 30 years and their incredible speciation is not only fascinating for research and worth protecting, but could also harbour valuable traits for developing an independent aquaculture industry. With Earlham Institute we are developing a phone app to help fish farmers check the authenticity of any fingerlings. It could help identify regions particularly rich in pure species, where conservation measures could be put in place. It could also flag up regions with a high number of hybrids that pose a biosecurity risk.”

John Benzie from WorldFish says: “We aim to help transform the productivity of Tanzanian aquaculture while minimising impacts on the environment. We can share best practice from around the world and help train a pool of geneticists in cutting edge breeding technologies that can be used to develop new commercially-viable strains of tilapia. For example, these technologies can be used to isolate beneficial traits such as fast growth while discarding negative traits such as susceptibility to disease.”

Melanie Welham, BBSRC Chief Executive, says: “Investment from the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund can help Tanzanian experts, working with UK researchers, harness their natural resources to sustainably alleviate undernutrition. We are delighted that the workshop held in October has produced an ambitious resolution to improve fish production.”

Dirk-Jan De Koning from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), says: “The provision of healthy fingerlings (young fish) of varieties that are well adapted to local production environments is a key requirement for aquaculture in any country. To establish and maintain a brood stock to supply the industry with fingerlings requires long-term investments in infrastructure and training.

Matern Mtolera, Deputy Director of the Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Dar es Salaam, says: “Our modest success in the past decade in stimulating marine and freshwater tilapia farming include the emergence of enthusiastic small and medium aqua-enterprises that are eager than ever to farm tilapia. With the support from the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) that brings with it a unique set of global expertise joining our effort, Tanzania has a unique opportunity to successfully address her aquaculture farmers’ limitations particularly on unavailability of reliable seed and lack of skills in genetic management of stock.”

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For further information, please contact:
Hayley London
Marketing & Communications Officer, Earlham Institute (EI)
+44 (0)1603 450 107
hayley.london@earlham.ac.uk

About Earlham Institute

The Earlham Institute (EI) is a leading research institute focusing on the development of genomics and computational biology. EI is based within the Norwich Research Park and is one of eight institutes that receive strategic funding from Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) – £6.45M in 2015/2016 – as well as support from other research funders. EI operates a National Capability to promote the application of genomics and bioinformatics to advance bioscience research and innovation.

EI offers a state of the art DNA sequencing facility, unique by its operation of multiple complementary technologies for data generation. The Institute is a UK hub for innovative bioinformatics through research, analysis and interpretation of multiple, complex data sets. It hosts one of the largest computing hardware facilities dedicated to life science research in Europe. It is also actively involved in developing novel platforms to provide access to computational tools and processing capacity for multiple academic and industrial users and promoting applications of computational Bioscience. Additionally, the Institute offers a training programme through courses and workshops, and an outreach programme targeting key stakeholders, and wider public audiences through dialogue and science communication activities. http://www.earlham.ac.uk / @EarlhamInst

Availability Of Three-, Four-Star BAP Tilapia From China To Increase

Maoming City Maonan Sangao Fine Breeding Base, one of China’s largest tilapia hatcheries, has attained Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification.

The hatchery’s certification will likely increase the availability of three- and four-star BAP tilapia from China. Groups are capable of offering four-star BAP product if the product originates from BAP-certified hatcheries, feed mills, farms and processing plants. It’s the highest designation in the BAP third-party certification program.

The Fishin’ Company, one of the world’s largest tilapia importers, sponsored Maoming City Maonan Sangao Fine Breeding Base to apply for BAP certification. With the hatchery’s certification, the U.S.-based company will be capable of offering four-star BAP tilapia, as it sources fingerlings from the hatchery.

About BAP
A division of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, Best Aquaculture Practices is an international certification program based on achievable, science-based and continuously improved performance standards for the entire aquaculture supply chain — farms, hatcheries, processing plants and feed mills — that assure healthful foods produced through environmentally and socially responsible means. BAP certification is based on independent audits that evaluate compliance with the BAP standards developed by the Global Aquaculture Alliance.

First Latin American Company To Offer Four-Star BAP Tilapia

Paraiso Springs Aquaculture Guatemala is Latin America’s first company qualified to offer four-star Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) tilapia, the Global Aquaculture Alliance announced in early March.

The company became eligible to offer four-star BAP tilapia with the BAP certification of its hatchery. Its new processing plant and farm — located in Caserio Los Angeles, San Luis Peten, Guatemala — are already BAP certified, as are the feed mills from which it sources feed, Areca Feed Mill in Guatemala and Cargill de Honduras.

Four-star BAP status denotes that the product originates from a BAP-certified processing plant, farm, hatchery and feed mill. It’s the highest achievement in the BAP program.

“We are very proud of the hard work our crew put forth to obtain BAP four-star certification. It certainly is an accomplishment for a small family-run operation like Paraiso Springs. This is a big part of our quality commitment to our clients and community,” said Alejandro Palomo, president of Paraiso Springs Aquaculture Guatemala.

Currently, worldwide, there are 74 BAP-certified tilapia processing plants and 68 BAP-certified tilapia farms, representing more than 175,000 metric tons annually.

About BAP
A division of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, Best Aquaculture Practices is an international certification program based on achievable, science-based and continuously improved performance standards for the entire aquaculture supply chain — farms, hatcheries, processing plants and feed mills — that assure healthful foods produced through environmentally and socially responsible means. BAP certification is based on independent audits that evaluate compliance with the BAP standards developed by the Global Aquaculture Alliance.