New research to improve the economic viability of aquaculture
Financed by the European Fund for Maritime and Fish Affairs (FEAMP), new research to track efficiency of tilapia’s fish feed led by Dr Hugues de Verdal, from CIRAD.
The research is aiming to o improve the economic viability of aquaculture in areas where feed is expensive.
“As we all know, feed represents 50-70 percent of fish production costs, and around 55-85 percent of the environmental impact of fish production. As a result, in order to improve the sustainability of tilapia production it’s essential to improve feed efficiency – the ratio between the feed given to the fish and their weight gain,” de Verdal says.
“Different ways can be studied to improve feed efficiency: rearing practices, nutrition and genetics. The first two have already been widely studied but there is now a prime opportunity to improve feed efficiency by genetic means. However, the main constraint facing genetic breeding programmes is that it is essential to measure the phenotype of each individual fish: it’s very complicated to measure feed intake of each fish reared in a group, but Nile tilapia are social and need to be housed in groups,” he adds.
“I have developed a new methodology to measure individual feed intake of fish reared in small groups in aquariums – we give the fish individual tags to make them easy to identify, film each time they are fed, then review the footage to count the number of pellets eaten by each fish,” he highlights.
To start the field trials, La Réunion, an island which lies to the east of Madagascar, has chosen.