Fish industry players call for import ban of Asian tilapia

copperbelt; FISP; fish; irrigation; aquaculture

Some players in the Zambian fish industry want government to ban the import of tilapia fish from Asia, after an outbreak of the highly contagious Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) there.

Local media report that Aquaculture Development of Zambia (ADAZ), the umbrella body for Zambia’s fishing industry, raised the alarm following reports of mislabeling of Asian tilapia as Namibia Mackerel to avoid stringent health inspections and tax duties.

“The outbreak poses a threat to the local industry, and it is worrying that fish imports from Asia – where the disease is wreaking havoc – continue to be imported into Zambia under different guises. Therefore, the ideal solution is to impose a total ban of tilapia fish from Asia for the time being,” said ADAZ Trustee Fisho Mwale.

In May, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) issued a global information and early warning alert of the outbreak of the disease in five countries on three continents – Thailand, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel and Colombia. The FAO urged countries importing tilapia to take appropriate risk management measures, including intensifying diagnostic testing and enforcing health certificates and quarantine measures.

While the pathogen poses no public health concern, it can decimate infected populations. In 2015, world tilapia production from aquaculture and capture, amounted to 6.4 million tonnes, with an estimated value of US$9.8 billion, while worldwide trade is valued at US$1.8 billion.

ADAZ said the disease can curtail progress made to make the fishing industry a major contributor to the Zambian economy.

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