The Zimbabwe Fish Producers’ Association (ZFPA) has confirmed an outbreak of epizootic ulcerative syndrome (EUS) among fish in 25 bodies of water across 15 districts of the country.
EUS is a high-mortality fish disease caused by a fungal agent. Its primary symptoms include skin lesions that cause sickness and often lead to death.
In a statement issued on the eve of a one-day workshop that was held in the capital Harare to discuss ways of reviving aquaculture, the ZFPA said although some indigenous fish species and the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) appear to be resistant to EUS, the disease could be devastating to other fish species.
“Zimbabwe has just completed a 3-year African Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF)/Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) regional surveillance programme on epizootic ulcerative syndrome (EUS), a fish disease that has emerged in the last decade. This has identified EUS in 6 provinces, 15 districts and 25 water bodies,” the organisation said.
KEEPING AN EYE ON TILAPIA LAKE VIRUS
Besides EUS, fish farmers in Zimbabwe and also monitoring the emergence of the Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV), which has already been confirmed in South Africa, Thailand, Israel, parts of North Africa and South America.
The producers said focusing more on fish health and nutrition would develop the fish farming industry while building capacity in the areas of health and disease surveillance.
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“Like all other forms of livestock, fish will only achieve optimum growth rates when they are thriving and free from stress and disease,” the organisation said.
Fish farming has been incorporated as a key component of the country’s “command agriculture” programme. To date, the programme has seen the distribution of millions of fish fingerlings in large dams and other permanent water bodies around the provinces.
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The model is premised on community ownership and benefit from the exploitation of local fish resources. To boost local disease surveillance and management capacity, the ASTF/FAO programme has trained extension and research officers in EUS identification.
Awareness campaigns targeting fish farmers and fishermen have been held in all areas that have been affected by the EUS outbreak.