General News of Friday, 19 October 2018
The Ghana Aquaculture Association is urging public calm after it emerged that at least 18,000 tonnes tilapia died en masse at a fish farm and had to be destroyed.
President of the Association, Jennifer Sodji, has said part of the fish farm, Fujian Farm — a Chinese owned company — at Asutsuare in the Greater Accra Region, has since been shut down pending further investigations.
“We realised that the fishes were dying and then we alerted the Fisheries Commission. EPA [the Environmental Protection Agency] also moved in there to investigate the fish at the farm. The general public is not supposed to be worried about it,” she told Accra-based Citi FM.
The cause of tilapia mortality is not yet known. But some reports indicate that the tilapia died because they may be a strain of a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) that could not survive conditions in the fish ponds in Accra.
Persons with insights into fish farming also say they suspect that there was a toxic residue in the pond due to “massive organic loading”.
This “organic loading”, according to experts, can be caused by excessive feed input per unit volume of water, poor water exchange per the expanse of installed cages and the cool surface temperature due to extended cloud cover caused by persistent rainfall.
Tilapia is a popular Ghanaian delicacy. Banku and tilapia is a common dish on the long list of cherished Ghanaian cuisines.
Ban on tilapia imports
In July this year, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) placed a ban on the importation of all ornamental fishes and tilapia species (live and dead), including gametes (eggs) and milt, into the country from July 1 to December 31, 2018.
A statement issued by MoFAD to announce the ban said the Tilapia Lake virus was a newly emerging virus associated with significant mortalities in farmed tilapia.
“The attention of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) has been drawn to the fact that, cases have been reported across Africa, Asia and South America that the virus represents a huge risk to the global tilapia industry.
“This means all countries should be vigilant and act quickly to investigate cases of mortalities in farms,” the statement said.
That ban is still in place.