More countries are joining Tilapia farming despite the fact that production is dominated by China. Emerging markets appear with good and responsible practices.
By: Raul Pajaro Sanchez
The Tilapia, whose records indicate that it was the fish that Jesus used in the miracle of the multiplication of the fish in the Sea of Galilee, is possibly the oldest farm raised fish in the world and is also known as the 'St. Peter's Fish’, according to Seafood Health Facys.
The origins of tilapia trace back to the Middle East and Africa. It has been present since the times of the pharaohs and immortalized in some Egyptian tombs, evidencing its importance in the Ancient Egyptian diet.
Today, tilapia is produced in more than 80 countries, with 45% of the worldwide production occurring in China. New tilapia markets have emerged in countries across the globe, such as: Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, United States, Taiwan and Indonesia.
Peru is known worldwide for its great variety in maritime gastronomy.Tilapia was introduced there in the mid-1950s but it was not until the 1970s that the development of aquaculture for this fish began. Although its distribution is concentrated to local Peruvian markets, this has not prevented it from being exported to other countries, such as the United States.
Responsible and good environmental practices have allowed Peru to deliver quality tilapia to the market. The use of recirculating aquaculture techniques have brought production to new heights. In this process, cultured water is reused after treating and purifying it through physical, chemical and biological methods. For this technique, mechanical filters are used whose function is to eliminate the solid waste from fish and food. Biofilters remove all toxic components (such as ammonia) and eventually carbon dioxide is removed from the water before being sent back to the pond. This cycle guarantees the maximum well-being and weight gain of the tilapia.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, helps consumers and businesses make environmentally conscious decisions, and have approved the quality of the Peruvian tilapia. They say, “blue Tilapia farmed in Peru in raceways is a Best Choice. There's little or no chemical use, and effluent is treated and used to irrigate agricultural lands. Only a small amount of fishmeal is used in the feed, and it's sourced from fisheries that are not overfished”.
In summary, Tilapia is a mass-consumed fish that has been gaining a very good reputation among fish consumers. Good practices and environmental responsibility are the pillars for people to obtain a high quality fish, but what are the challenges and outlook for the future of farming tilapia? This question will be explored on January 12th, 20th and 26th at the event, ‘The Future of Fish Farming: Tilapia’.
This event is open to the entire community and you can register here.