Dr Olivier Decamp, Product Manager Farm & Feedmill, INVE Aquaculture, Thailand
Global production of tilapia is expected to reach 6 million tonnes in 2018, with key producers in Asia, America and Africa. In addition to the large geographical span, there is a high variation in the production method, from extensive to super-intensive, in pond, cages and indoor facilities. Tilapia, with its low cost and ease of production is one of the main internationally traded freshwater finfish, and is seen as a great source of protein to feed a growing human population. This can be achieved if tilapia production is professionalized and modernized, while respecting local economic, social and environmental perspectives. Tilapia aquaculture is in a great position, considering the recent development in genetic, biosecurity, nutrition and management tools.
With Atlantic salmon and whiteleg shrimp, tilapia is the third major aquaculture species with genetic programmes leading to the development of animals with improved growth rate and robustness, but also adaption to alternative nutritional ingredients. Within the broodstock and hatchery stages, the combination of biosecurity and nutrition allows a higher output of quality fry for transfer to nursery and on-growing. Nursery, combining microbial management with booster diet, can produce more fry that can handle more efficiently the stress of manipulation during vaccination and transfer to cages. The holistic management plan, including vaccination and veterinary follow-up, the correct use of nutritionally balanced feed and specific management protocols for pond-based or cage-based on-growing, will allow farmers to cost-efficiently produce fish that is recognized for its quality (taste, yield), can be certified as such, and be marketed under recognized brands. Examples from Thailand and other Asian countries will be discussed.