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Aquaculture Development and Research in
NIGERIA (continued)


2.1 Description of the Sector

2.1.1 Main participants

At national level the responsibility of aquaculture research lies primarily with NIOMR (Lagos) and NIFFR (New Bussa). Both institutes were created by a decree in 1975.

2.1.2 Objectives of research

Several authors have identified the major constraints of aquaculture development in Nigeria (e.g. Dada, 1976; Uboma et al., 1981; Tobor, 1985). Such constraints include:

The objectives of the various research programmes of NIOMR, ARAC, NIFFR and the universities are defined in line with these major obstacles to aquaculture development in Nigeria.

Increased fish production by simple culture systems is the main objective of the research programmes. Some of the research projects carried out by NIOMR and NIFFR have considerably reduced the effects of these constraints but some of them still persist.

2.1.3 General orientation

The research activities of NIOMR and NIFFR have covered to some extent the four major areas:

  1. Biotechnological Programmes

    Qualified, high-level aquaculture manpower, hitherto a major constraint in NIOMR, NIFFR and the universities, is no longer a problem since 1988. What is needed now is proper coordination of research results for effective utilization in aquaculture development and future research. Several species of local catfishes and tilapias have been studied, leading to the commercial production of fingerlings. Genetic improvement of the species leading to the production of hybrids, has been perfected. The technology for the production of monosex tilapia populations has been defined. Various culture systems adapted to different ecosystems are major aquaculture research projects in both NIOMR and NIFFR. Integrated poultry-fish culture and other culture systems such as pens, enclosures, cages and homestead systems, are being investigated further.

  2. Economics and Production Statistics

    More research work is needed in NIOMR and NIFFR where facilities are available. Several papers have been published by staff of the two institutions: Asiaphil Fish.Corp., 1979; Wokoma and Ezenwa, 1982; Okpanefe, Ezenwa and Abiodun, 1984; Abiodun, 1986; Egwui, 1986; Otubusin et al., 1991; Okoye et al., 1991. The various estimations were based on actual work carried out in the field and the collection of data from farmers. Some of the major constraints (Satia, 1990) include the non-release of funds by the supervising Ministry, bureaucracies associated with government managed research farms, rocketing inflation, inability of farmers to keep accurate data and their reluctance to release such data to visiting research personnel. This has led Abiodun (1986) to hastily conclude that, except in a few cases, notably in Ogun State, “returns do not justify investment in fish farming”. Research projects on economics and production statistics need very urgent attention by donor agencies to reduce the negative effects of inaccurate data on which most aquaculture projects are still formulated, at both national and state levels.

  3. Environmental Programmes

    There is no major project yet in the two research institutions - NIOMR and NIFFR - on environmentally-related aquaculture programmes. However, from observations made during research surveys on the abundance of fish seed in Nigerian coastal waters, Ezenwa et al. (1986, 1990), the following environmental factors were recognized:

    Since 1979, these factors were noted by the research team led by the author to have destructive impacts on fish, larvae, fry and fingerlings of wild stocks. The environmental impacts of aquaculture systems in Nigeria need to be properly addressed by both the Government and donor agencies. It is a priority area of research for the next decade due to the emphasis on global climate change. NIOMR, NIFFR and FEPA (Federal Environmental Protection Agency) need therefore to set up a joint research team for:

  4. Socio-economic Programmes

    Socio-economic issues related to capture fisheries have been treated in NIOMR and NIFFR but researchers have not yet studied the socio-economic aspects of aquaculture in Nigeria. Investigations are needed in the following areas (Edwards et al., 1991):

Such research requires highly trained personnel in social sciences, emphasizing the importance of other scientific disciplines to aquaculture research and development. Such level of manpower is not yet available in NIOMR and NIFFR.

2.1.4 Available resources

The operational capability of the two fisheries research institutes, NIOMR (Lagos) and NIFFR (New Bussa) is grossly limited due to poor funding and low priority attached to aquaculture.

  1. Research Infrastructure and Equipment

    NIOMR has a 4-ha experimental fish farm at Ikoyi Park (Lagos), which consists of nine 0.1-ha production ponds, seven outdoor hatchery tanks (breeding, nursery and production) and one large concrete storage tank with a capacity for 500 000 to 1 million fingerlings at a time. For fish seed production and storage facilities, the farm has a capacity of 2 to 5 million fingerlings, depending on the species. The laboratory is poorly equipped but has water quality equipment for routine aquaculture research. Financial assistance is needed because of the strategic location of the farm in densely populated areas and the heavy demand for fish seeds of popular species, such as the catfishes, the prawns and shrimps. In addition to the above, NIOMR has the field station ARAC, near Port Harcourt. It consists of a 5.3-ha brackishwater fish farm at Buguma and a 3-ha freshwater fish farm at Aluu. These farms have functional laboratories, breeding/nursery/storage tanks and production/storage earthen ponds.

    All these research facilities are likely to be improved under the auspices of a World Bank/Nigeria National Agricultural Research Project. Under the EEC-sponsored project on ‘Applied research for the innovation of a pond culture scheme with freshwater fish species in the oil palm belt of Nigeria’, eight production ponds were constructed at ARAC and some research equipment, including a computer, acquired.

    Aquaculture research facilities at NIFFR (New Bussa) are very modest. They consist of 2.5-ha experimental fish farm with storage/production ponds and breeding/nursery/storage concrete tanks.

  2. Research Financing

    Financing of aquaculture research in Nigeria has been relatively poor because of the low priority attached to the importance of research for development, although it has improved with the establishment of DFRRI in 1986. For the period 1970–85, the total allocation and expenditure on aquaculture research for both NIOMR and NIFFR was below two million naira (about USD 400 000). Since 1986, DFRRI's mandate to the two institutes has led to the establishment of functional outdoor hatcheries for breeding, storage and marketing of fingerlings to fish farmers.

    The poor funding of aquaculture research in Nigeria (Tables 4, 5 and 9) is a reflection of the lack of faith of policy planners on the value of aquaculture research for fisheries development.

Table 9

Fund allocations for eight research projects made to NIOMR in 1991 (in thousand NGN)

    2    3--    4-    1    8     29
  19  45  55  19  25  13  20  32   233
  42  97118  42  55  28  44  70   500
  93214259  92121  61  981531 095
  39119101  38  51  25  41  64   482
1984805341932491292043302 320
  19-119114    1  21  13    1   177
  45124  15103  16  52  19222   399
  47214  63  52  57  62  56-   554
  37141134  74  58  29135    2   613
  47-150  51  61  31  49  77   469
* *        
(197)(480)(483)(319)(195)(226)(274)(103)(2 290)
* * *        
  1371  50(125)  53 (97) (70)226    39

P1    Research into fish and shellfish breeding for mass production of fish seeds
P2    Strengthening of training and research facilities at the African Regional Aquaculture Centre
P3    Research into commercial abundance of deep water fish
P4    Utilization of marine fishery resources, etc.
P5    Marine geology and geophysics, etc.
P6    Extension, research and liaison services and library journals
P7    Establishment of oceanic data bank
P8    Development of improved fishing nets
*      Total received (approximate)
* *    Total expenditures (approximate)
* * *  Balance (approximate)

Table 10

NIOMR aquaculture research staff as at December 1992 (Lagos and ARAC Stations)

S/NNamePostQualificationsArea of specialization
1Ezenwa, B.I.O.Chief Research OfficerM.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.Fish breeding and genetics (finfish, prawn, shrimp)
2Ayinla, O.A.Chief Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.Fish breeding and nutrition
3Onuoha, G.C (Mrs)Assistant Chief Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.Water quality
4Dare, E., C (Mrs)Principal Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Sc.Culture systems
5Marioghae, I.E.Principal Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Sc.Prawn/Shrimp production
6Alegbeleye, W.O.Senior Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Sc.Live food organisms and fish nutrition
7Anyanw, P.E. (Miss)Senior Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Tech. (Aquaculture)Fish breeding and aquaculture systems
8Nwadukwe, F.O.Senior Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Tech. (Aquaculture)Fish breeding and genetics
9Erondu, E.S.Senior Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Tech. (Aquaculture)Fish breeding and production systems
10Idoniboye-Obu, T.I.ESenior Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Sc.Fish nutrition
11Oresegun, O.Senior Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.Fish nutrition
12Oladosun, G.A.Senior Research OfficerDVMFish pathology
13Adeyemo, F.A.Research Officer IB.Sc., M.Sc.Planktology
14Deckae, S.N.Research Officer IB.Sc., M.Sc.Economics of culture systems
15Nlewadim, A.AResearch Officer IB.Sc., M.Sc.Culture systems
16Mosugu, (Miss)Research Officer IB.Sc., M.Sc.Water and soil quality
17Aladetohun, A.F(Ms)Research Officer IB.Sc., M.Sc.Fish nutrition
18Oghenedo, A.E.(Ms)Research Officer IIB.Sc.Fish nutrition
19Ajiboye, M.O.Research Officer IIB.Sc.Microbiology

Table 11

NIFFR aquaculture research team as at December 1991

S/NNamePostQualificationsArea of specialization
1Ita, E.O.Assistant DirectorB.Sc., M.Sc.Culture systems in lakes and reservoirs
2Toubusin, S.O.Assistant Chief Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Sc.Cage enclosure culture systems
3Mad, C.T.Principal Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.Fish breeding
4Omorinkoba, W.S.Senior Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Sc.Fish breeding and culture systems
5Ovie, S.O. (Mrs)Senior Research OfficerB.Sc., M.Sc.Prawn hatchery and management
  1. Human Resources

    Nigeria has skilled personnel for aquaculture research. During the past decade, the country has acquired a large pool of trained manpower from ARAC and the 13 universities and other tertiary institutions. Tables 10 and 11 show lists of aquaculture research staff at NIOMR/ARAC and NIFFR.

2.1.5 Main research programmes

Despite poor funding and very limited research facilities at NIOMR and NIFFR, some programmes have been successfully carried out while others will take some more time to complete.

  1. NIFFR

    The aquaculture programmes at NIFFR have consisted of:

    1. Management of reservoirs

      The productivity of some reservoirs has been improved through the stocking of fingerlings. For example, 100 000 clupeids have been successfully transferred from Lake Kainji, Niger State, into Tiga Lake, Kano State. Also, 100 000 tilapia fingerlings have been transferred from Jankara reservoir into Ruwan Kanyan Lake, both in Kano State. Such efforts have over the years increased the productivity of the water bodies (Ayeni, 1991).

    2. Fish hatchery management

      Over one million fingerlings of Clarias gariepinus, 0.1 million of common carp and 1.5 million of various tilapias were produced and distributed to fish farmers in various parts of the country. Over 10 000 hybrid fingerlings (Heterobranchus and Clarias) were produced during the 1990 breeding season.

    3. Cage, pen and enclosure culture systems

      Species such as Heterobranchus bidorsalis, Clarias gariepinus, Oreochromis niloticus, O. galilaeus, Distichodus spp., Alestes baremose and Citharinus citharus have reached an average weight of 335–715 g within one year of culture in floating growout cages at the Shagun station.

    4. Pond engineering, construction and consultancy services

      Technical assistance was given to individuals and groups from the private and public sectors in setting up hatcheries for fingerling production.

    5. Fish feeds and nutrition

      The best feed formulation for the semi-intensive culture of mud catfish and tilapia fingerlings has been identified. Feed loss during storage due to powdering by Tibolium castaneum and Rhyzooertha dominica have been estimated at 15 per cent.

  2. NIOMR

    The aquaculture research programmes at NIOMR have consisted of:

    Major Achievements (1975–1992)

    1. The technology for breeding, out of season, selected popular species, including Chrysichthys nigrodigitatus, Clarias gariepinus and Heterobranchus bidorsalis was developed, standardized and made available to farmers. The experimental crossing of C. gariepinus and H. bidorsalis produced fertile hybrids which attained early maturity at 9 months instead of 3 years for the parent, Heterobranchus sp. This early maturity however exceeds that of the parent Clarias gariepinus by 3 or 4 months (Nwadukwe et al., 1991).

    2. Acute shortage of seed of cultivable indigenous species of fish constitutes a major problem in the development of viable fish farming in Nigeria (Tobor, 1991). NIOMR attacked this problem from two angles - hatchery production of fingerlings and research on seed collection from the natural environment. Between 1986 and 1989, the breeding and nursery grounds of six major groups of fish and shellfish, including shrimp/prawn, catfishes, tilapias and mullets, were located along the entire Nigerian coastline (Ezenwa et al., 1990). Water and soil parameters characterizing breeding and nursery grounds, the best season for seed collection, together with the most suitable harvesting gear, were determined.

    3. The development of culture systems based on indigenous species of fish has also been addressed. Integrated polyculture of Clarias gariepinus and Oreochromis niloticus with broiler chickens was investigated. Trial cultures yielded production rates of 4–5 t fish/ha/year and 6 t chickens/ha/year. This production system has been standardized and introduced to fish farmers.

    4. In the field of promotion of the production of high quality fish feeds, NIOMR has developed pellets for Clarias and Tilapia. An annual production of 100 t was attained with the limited facilities. With DFRRI funds, NIOMR has been able to expand its facilities to produce annually 500 t (in Lagos) and 700 t (in ARAC) of high quality feeds for farmers.

    5. In January 1987, DFRRI launched a special programme to promote homestead fish husbandry in Lagos State using the NIOMR aquaculture research team for the successful execution and operation of the scheme. From regular scientific data collected from privately owned homestead ponds by the NIOMR research team, yields from a concrete tank 8m × 4m × 1.2m ranged from 32 to 38 kg/32 m2 per 6 month cycle (Anyanwu, Ezenwa and Uzukwu, 1987 and 1989). NIOMR identified a high incidence of “broken skin disease and infectious abdominal drops” among Clarias gariepinus. The diseases, however, disappeared with frequent renewal of water in the tank to improve its quality (Anyanwu, Ezenwa and Uzukwu, 1989). The above programme is now very popular in all states of Nigeria.

2.2 Institutional Framework of the Sector

2.2.1 Administrative Context

The previous locations of the two fisheries research institutes in ministries or agencies different from that of FDF raised questions on the proper utilization of fishery research information in Nigeria.

This anomaly was corrected in January 1992 by the military administration which transferred all the 18 National Agricultural Research Institutes under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. The statutory functions of the ministry include promotion, coordination, and administration of scientific and technological research and development activities in agriculture. In addition to formulation of agricultural research policies which cover crops, livestock, fisheries, forestry and related subjects, the ministry is also deeply involved in the monitoring, evaluation and coordination of agricultural extension and research liaison and training. Each of the fisheries research institutes (NIOMR and NIFFR) has a Board of Governors (Figure 4) whose membership includes scientists, economists, politicians, and a representative of the supervising ministry. Its major function is to scrutinize and evaluate selected aquaculture research programmes and budgets, while the supervising ministry gives a preliminary budget approval. The National Planning and Budget Division, located in another ministry, has the final powers to reject, reduce or approve fisheries/aquaculture research programmes submitted by the institutes through their Boards of Governors and supervising ministry. It is at this point that the institutional framework becomes problematic.

2.2.2 Tasks delegated to aquaculture research

The low priority accorded to aquaculture research in 1970–1980 changed during the last decade because of the realization by fishery administrators of the importance of research in development plans. Public institutions such as DFRRI and State Fisheries Departments increasingly see aquaculture research information obtained from NIOMR and NIFFR as a means of support to fisheries development schemes, while the supervising ministry utilizes aquaculture research data in the preparation of development plans in the short, medium or long terms.

The First National Rolling Plan (1990–1992) has aquaculture as a major component. The programme ‘Research into fish and shellfish breeding for mass production of seeds’ was considered by fishery administrators in 1989 as a surer way of bridging the gap between the decline in capture fisheries production and population growth in Nigeria.

It was recognized that high quality fish seeds are always in greater demand. Conservative estimates (1989) put the figure at approximately 10 million annually. Simple techniques for controlled breeding and larvae/fry rearing, when developed, could result in higher fingerling survival and production in small-, medium- and large-scale fish farms. Population genetics and hybridization of selected cultivable species for improved seeds with certain desired characteristics were considered part of the major thrust of the programme. Since 1986, the programme was vigorously carried out by NIOMR and NIFFR, with further financial support from DFRRI.

To support the fisheries sectoral development process, it was further recognized in the Fourth National Development Plan (1980–1987) that Nigeria had an extensive system of lakes and reservoirs numbering over 300 and covering approximately 300 000 ha (Ita et al., 1985). To enhance the productivity of these water bodies and raise the fish catch by fishermen within the communities, NIFFR was mandated to carry out artificial stocking of some of these lakes and reservoirs.

2.3 Contribution of Aquaculture Research to Development

2.3.1 Collaboration research-production: Reasons

The impact of aquaculture research on fisheries development was insignificant in the earlier years (1970–1980) due to the low priority attached to the sector by the Government. The situation, however, improved tremendously during the last decade due to the general recognition in both the public and private sectors of the advantages of developing fish farming to complement declining capture fisheries.

Figure 4

Figure 4. Organizational chart of NIOMR

Several factors motivated this greater awareness of the importance of aquaculture research for fisheries development:

  1. Collaboration between research and production in the identification of development policies: DFRRI's creation (1986) and its location in the Presidency prompted an accelerated approach to applied aquaculture research within the institutes. In 1987, the research institutes produced approximately 3 million fingerlings, 55 per cent of their target of 5.45 million. The homestead pond programme was vigorously pursued nationwide by DFRRI through NIOMR, NIOMR/ARAC and NIFFR. This led to the establishment of over 3 000 small concrete tanks of varying dimensions, located in living premises. Fish production as a result of DFRRI's direct participation in the selection, identification and execution of development projects, led to a dramatic increase from an estimated average production of 1 t/ha/year to 3–4 t/ha/year for earthen ponds and 15–25 t/ha/year for homestead tanks.

  2. Due to the greater awareness of the potentials of the aquaculture industry in Nigeria, over 2 000 earthen ponds (0.02–1 ha), and several large commercial farms (Table 3) were established. This in turn led to closer contacts between aquaculture research scientists and investors in small-to-large-scale aquaculture and the financing sector. Consultancy units were established in NIOMR and NIFFR to cope with demands on site selection, pond design, water and soil analyses, species identification, fish feeds, culture systems, socio-economic analysis and general farm management techniques. Feasibility reports are sent to the institutes by the potential financing agency before any approval is given for project financing. The institutes have designed programmes to promote integrated livestock/aquaculture farming and carried out large-scale stocking of lakes and reservoirs. NIOMR has investigated since 1988 the polyculture of C. gariepinus and O. niloticus with broiler chickens.

2.3.2 Collaboration research-production: Subjects

The major subjects on which such collaboration has developed during the last decade include:

  1. Technical subjects: Large scale production and distribution of fingerlings of C. gariepinus, Oreochromis niloticus; Heterobranchus spp. and hybrids of Clarias/Heterobranchus, C. nigrodigitatus and Tilapia spp. Restriction on food imports after the oil boom period, together with the government's new policy in which it was recognized that “agriculture is essentially a private-sector activity”, strongly increased the demand for quality fingerlings by fish farmers. It annually ranged from 10 million to 50 million fingerlings (1986–1992). In addition, stocking of natural lakes and reservoirs required over 50 million fingerlings.

  2. Economical subjects: Economic programming of the production of selected culture systems such as livestock-fish culture, cage/pen culture and crop/fish culture, access to both rural and urban markets are investigated through the consultancy units of the fisheries research institutes.

  3. Institutional subjects: The institutes in collaboration with the Federal Department of Fisheries, DFRRI, the State Department of Fisheries, the River Basin Development Authorities (1979–1985), the State ADP's and the commercial banks and other financial agencies, participate in the definition of sectoral policies, regulations and legislations.

  4. Social subjects: The major items of the institutes' aquaculture programmes include the identification and selection of appropriate technologies, the organization of production for various target communities (particularly women) to reduce the rural-urban migration of youths. Socio-economic research surveys of communities in coastal villages and close to inland waters have been carried out by NIOMR and NIFFR, though more research work is needed in this sector.

2.3.3 Collaboration research-production: Mechanisms

Satia (1990) rightly observed that many of the research results from the institutes and universities have been published as technical papers but are not widely disseminated. The benefits of these works, he noted, are not very apparent, owing to the undefined link between research and development institutions and the private sector.

At national level, there exists a National Agricultural Extension-Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) in Zaria. Its mandate includes “overall planning and co-ordination of all agricultural extension: specialist support activities in crops, livestock, fisheries, forestry, irrigation, agricultural engineering and food technology; collation and dissemination of agricultural innovations to States extension services”.

Within the research institutes, also exist Extension-Research Liaison Services units that are supposed to establish effective communication linkages with NAERLS. In practice, such linkage and cooperation do not exist. Research results from each institute are passed to farmers through its Extension- Research Liaison Services unit by seminars, workshops, training of extension agents, mobilization and organization of interested rural and urban people to participate effectively in aquaculture. During workshops, relevant publications are collected by participants who normally have the possibility of discussing their problems with experts in various disciplines.

2.3.4 Results obtained Research on species identification and selection

The above topic dominated the activity of aquaculture research from 1970 to 1980, due mainly to the wide variety of popular fish species inhabiting the diverse ecosystems (Sivalingam, 1972; Ezenwa, 1976, 1979; Ezenwa et al., 1986, 1990). Ezenwa (1979) summarized the results obtained for the past two decades (Table 12).

Between 1980 and 1989, the breeding and nursery grounds of six major groups of fish and shellfish were located along the entire Nigerian coastline (Ezenwa et al., 1990). Water and soil parameters characterizing the breeding and nursery grounds, the appropriate seasons for seed collection from their natural environment, and the most suitable harvesting gears were determined. As a result of this, markets for fish seeds collected from the wild have flourished among fishing communities, thus providing an estimated 70 per cent of the national demand for fish farmers, in the absence of well developed hatcheries. The sale of fish seeds by fishermen for the past decade has greatly improved their socio-economic welfare.

Of all exotic species experimented in Nigeria, only common carp has had a 100 per cent establishment in most freshwater fish farms. The other exotic species, e.g. the channel catfish and the largemouth bass, have failed to establish themselves in the farms after a series of experiments by Johnson (pers.comm., 1976) of Auburn University. The fate of Xiphophorus maculatus, a popular aquarium species, is not known but Poecilia reticulata, introduced from Britain in 1972 for teaching purposes, has established itself in the country and is available at the University of Ibadan (Satia, 1990). Research on pilot production of fish seeds of popular species

Fish seeds are very expensive and seed inputs in fish farming practices constitute a major operational cost, about 20 per cent (Abiodun, 1986). A major research programme for NIOMR and NIFFR dealt with hatchery production of fish species generally preferred by consumers - C. gariepinus, H. bidorsalis, C. nigrodigitatus; O. niloticus; Penaeus notialis and Macrobrachium vollenhovenii. Successes were obtained in the hatchery production of the catfishes, including hybrids of Clarias and Heterobranchus. In 1987, NIOMR and NIFFR produced 3 million fingerlings, equivalent to 55 per cent of their target under a DFRRI-sponsored research on pilot production of fish seeds. By 1992, the target was met and exceeded. The continuity of this project depends on continuous funding from the government or on the use of funds generated from the sale of fingerlings to offset operational costs.

Table 12

Summary of data on cultivable species of finish and shellfish
(modified after Sivalingam, 1972, and Ezenwa, 1976)

SpeciesPopularity with consumersAvailability of seeds for stockingSalinity tolerance (in parts per thousand)Remarks
Local species    
T. melanopleura (T. rendalli)AverageYear round and adequateUp to 26 or more, depending on speciesHardy and good as standby species in absence of more popular species for stocking; uncontrolled breeding a disadvantage
O. niloticus""""
O. galilaeus""""
T. zillii""""
Chrysichthys nigrodigitatusVery goodYear round but inadequateUp to 26Hardy, but supplementary feed absolutely necessary. Has grown well with tilapias and mullets.
Liza falcipinnisGoodYear round and adequateUp to 35Has given good results in brackish waters. Experiments in fresh waters underway.
Mugil bananensis""""
Liza grandisquamis""""
Liza dumerili""""
Mugil monodi""""
Mugil curema""""
Clarias gariepinus (mud catfish)Very goodYear round but inadequateUp to 25Can be stocked very densely, provided supplementary feed is given. Now cultured with tilapia.
Heterotis niloticusLowSeasonal and inadequateFreshwater onlySmall sizes favoured. Larger sizes said to be of lower taste.
Ethmalosa fimbriata (Bonga)GoodSeasonalUp to 35Comes into ponds with tide. Appears to be sensitive to oxygen deficiency, delicate and does not survive long once out of water.
Penaeus duorarum (pink shrimp)Very goodSeasonal0.5–3.5Comes into ponds with tide. Delicate and limbs easily damaged. Has grown to about 20 g in ponds.
Macrobrachium spp."Seasonal0–10Caught in abundance in certain areas of the country
Lates niloticus (Nile perch)"ScarceFresh water onlyGood predator for tilapias but preys on carps also. Fast growth.
Pomadasys jubeliniGoodSeasonal5–10Comes into ponds with tide. Good predator for tilapias in brackish ponds.
Exotic species
(already introduced)
Cyprinus carpio (common carp)Very goodYear round and adequateFresh water but tolerates low salinityResponds well to fertilizers and supplementary feeding
Ictalurus punctatus
(channel catfish)
""Fresh and brackish water"
Micropterus salmoides
(largemouth bass)
""Fresh water"
Lepomis macrochirus (bluegill)Good"""
Exotic species
(worth introducing)
Ctenopharyngodon idella
(grass carp)
GoodNilFresh waterSome ponds are noted for the dense growth of grass and weeds. If introduced into these ponds, they may keep the vegetation under control.
Hypophthalmichthys molitrix
(silver carp)
"""Should increase production from ponds rich in phytoplankton. Available all along the coastline in the brackishwater areas.
Heterobranchus spp."Seasonal"Responds well to fertilizers and supplementary feeding.
Distichodus engycephalus"SeasonalFresh waterSome ponds are noted for excess grass and weeds. This species is suspected to be able to keep weeds under control.
Distichodus brevipinnis""""
Distichodus rostratus""""
Malapterurus electricus"""Good predator for excess tilapias in ponds.
Megalops atlanticus"Seasonal5–30 brackish waterComes into ponds with tide. Good predator for excess tilapias in brackishwater ponds.
Hemichromis fasciatusLowAdequateUp to 26Good predator species for tilapia. Does not grow with large carps. Feds on tilapia fry and fingerlings only.
Lutjanus apodusGoodInadequate1 to above 30Good predator species for tilapia in brackishwater ponds.
Lutjanus agennes""""
Gymnarchus niloticus""Freshwater onlyGood predator for tilapias. Fast growth.
Elops lacertaLow"Up to 26Comes into ponds with the tide. Delicate and sensitive to oxygen deficiency, does not survive long out of water.
Crassostrea gasar
(mangrove oyster)
GoodAlmost throughout the year and adequate2 to 32Of the three collectors tested for spat collection, spat settles better on hard timber than old oyster shells or asbestos. Better settlement in the shade than in open areas. Settlement more abundant in depths between about 30 and 100 cm from water surface. Research on pilot production of low-cost high quality feeds

Over the years this problem has defied solutions despite persistent research efforts by NIOMR, NIFFR and the private sector. Achievements were, however, recorded in the identification of cheap raw materials, mainly of agricultural origin, and in the formulation and development of pelleted feeds for Clarias spp., tilapias, Chrysichthys spp. and C. carpio. Quantities produced each year remained small. Costs of production gradually went up with the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). Feeds became very expensive and unaffordable for fish farmers.

Due to the above constraint, for the last decade the institutes intensified research on the production of live organisms for fry, fingerlings and table-sized fish, in particular of species that depend heavily on plankton and other herbivorous species. The identified species included all tilapias, mullets, Heterotis niloticus and Distichodus spp. Species with shorter food chains were recommended for small-scale fish farmers. Organic fertilizers, poultry manure and cow manure are now extensively used by such farmers. It is pertinent to mention that, despite successes recorded by NIOMR and NIFFR in the standardization and production of live food organisms, the technology developed needs further improvement for commercial fish farms.

The availability of Artemia in Nigeria is an area worth investigating since there are salt lakes in the country. Artemia research and production in Nigeria could be feasible as in Kenya's Mombasa laboratory, which attracted aid from Belgium. Research on cage, pen, enclosure culture systems and management of natural lakes and reservoirs

According to several sources (Ayoade and Oyebande, 1983; Ita et al., 1985), Nigeria has an extensive lake and reservoir system covering about 300 000 ha. Over the years 1970 to 1980, these water bodies were ignored and used only for drinking and irrigation purposes. Investigations carried out by NIFFR since 1980 have shown that their productivity could be improved by stocking with popular fish species and the introduction of cage, pen and enclosure culture systems. In addition to the stocking activities, research on cage culture by NIFFR has recorded some positive results. Tilapias (O. niloticus, T. zillii, O. galilaeus) and catfishes (C. gariepinus and H. bidorsalis) were found to grow and survive in the floating bamboo net cage system. average weight observed varied from 335 g to 715 g per fish in 12 months. Citharinus citharus was observed to subsist on natural food with little supplementary feeding in floating cages at the Shagun station on the western shore of Lake Kainji (Otubusin et al., 1991). O. niloticus and S. galilaeus were observed to interbreed easily and naturally in captivity in the floating cages producing hybrid offsprings. Some of these findings, if fully applied to all the natural lakes and reservoirs in the country could increase their productivities by over 20 per cent.


3.1 Priorities for Development

Priorities for aquaculture development already exist in Nigeria. The identification, selection and formulation of aquaculture priorities in the short and medium terms is the statutory responsibility of FDF, under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. A technical committee, the National Fisheries Development Committee (NFDC), composed of State Directors of Fisheries, representatives of research institutes, universities, the Federal Agricultural Coordinating Unit, relevant State and private sector organizations, meets annually under the chairmanship of the Director of FDF to formulate and review fisheries policies. The committee is one of the technical committees under the National Council for Agriculture. The mandate of the NFDC is mainly on design and formulation of fisheries/aquaculture projects which FDF later presents to the National Council for Agriculture (NCA) for ratification.

At the 26th session of the National Fisheries Development Committee (29–31 July 1992), a communiqué was issued which:

In 1986, a national seminar on aquaculture development was also organized by DFRRI to map out short- and medium-term priority plans. Participants were largely drawn from all the relevant government agencies that make up NFDC, in addition to representatives of banks, financial houses, the press, both print and electronic media, and the private sector.

DFRRI's aquaculture programmes for development complemented those formulated by FDF through NFDC. Both recognized that Nigeria is endowed with an extensive inland water system, lakes, reservoirs, estuaries, lagoons, creeks, flood plains and approximately 800 km of marine coastline. Aquaculture potential therefore is tremendous.

3.1.1 Considerations made to justify the priorities
3.1.2 Decisions taken
3.1.3 Implementing agents

The responsibility for the implementation of aquaculture strategies for development in Nigeria is shared between FDF (Figure 2) and the State Fisheries Departments (Figure 3).

DFRRI and ADPs are recent institutional arrangements for accelerated development of various agricultural projects including fisheries/aquaculture. In reality, the two government agencies have since 1986 played a dominant supporting role in the implementation of various aquaculture development projects:

The FDF and SFD have fish farm demonstration centres. The centres carry out two major activities, the pilot production of fish fingerlings and practical training of extension agents and fish farmers.

The private sector also implements some of the aquaculture development projects. Some fishing villages along the water bodies organize themselves into fisheries cooperatives for the production of fish through the culture-based fisheries approach and the establishment of community fish farms.

3.1.4 Resources made available for implementation

Due to the low priority attached to aquaculture development between 1970 and 1980 by both Federal and State Governments, the budgetary allocation was insignificant. The situation, however, improved during the last decade (Section 11(c)). Loans from agricultural, commercial, merchant and industrial banks, though relatively small, accelerated the development of private commercial fish farms.

It is relevant to point out that donor agencies and foreign technical assistance helped in increasing the rate of aquaculture development during the last decade. The establishment of the African Regional Aquaculture Centre (ARAC) in 1980 by UNDP/FAO/NIOMR was a major initiative for aquaculture development in the African region south of the Sahara. In 1989, a grant from the Government of Italy assisted FDF to upgrade the facilities at the Oluponna fish farm, becoming a nucleus for integrated livestock-aquaculture farming in the country. In addition, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) agreed in January 1990 to fund a small-scale fisheries development project in Rivers, Cross River and Akwa-Ibom States, this project also contributing to aquaculture development.

3.2 Priorities for Research

Though subject to periodic review and fund availability, the major priorities, both short- and medium- term, centre on the following:

  1. Geographic information System

  2. Adaptive research subjects

  3. Species identification and selection to suit various ecological conditions of the country.

  4. Breeding, genetics and pilot production of fish fingerlings of popular fish species.

  5. Fish feeds and nutrition, on the basis of local raw materials; formulation and production of good, low-cost fish feeds.

  6. Socio-economic aspects of aquaculture.

  7. Methodology for the effective transfer of research results to fish farmers.

The identification, selection, formulation and execution of these research priorities are the statutory responsibilities of the fisheries research institutes and the universities.

National seminars and workshops are periodically organized to identify the major constraints in aquaculture development. Participants are drawn from FDF, DFRRI, SFDs, universities, professional bodies, the Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON), the Nigeria Association of Fish Farmers and Aquaculturists (NAFFA), financial houses and the private sector. At the end of each seminar or workshop, the research institutes identify and formulate projects aimed at removing the constraints on short and medium terms. The selected projects are later presented to the Board of Governors by the Director of each institute for critical appraisal and recommendation; approval is then requested from the supervising ministry for financial allocation.

3.2.1 Considerations made to justify the priorities
3.2.2 Decisions taken
3.2.3 Executing agencies for the new research lines

At national level, NIOMR and NIFFR have the statutory mandate since 1975 to conduct applied research in aquaculture.

While NIOMR is involved in marine and brackishwater aquaculture, NIFFR investigates all aspects of freshwater fish farming, including culture-based fisheries. In universities, where facilities are very limited, research is carried out mainly at the postgraduate level. Universities located within the coastal states (University of Lagos, Lagos State University, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, University of Calabar) concentrate on brackishwater fish farming. Those located in the inland states (University of Nigeria at Nsukka; University of Ibadan; University of Jos; Ahmadu Bello University; University of Agriculture at Abeokuta and Makurdi) are more involved with some aspects of freshwater fish farming.

3.2.4 Resources available for implementation

There is a very reasonable pool of trained aquaculture research personnel in NIOMR and NIFFR (Tables 9 and 10) as well as in Universities, but all staff need to be motivated to ensure that end users benefit from research undertakings (Satia, 1990). Presently, it is difficult to retain trained personnel in all the institutions because of greater attractions in the private sector.

Budgetary allocations for aquaculture research from 1970 to 1980 was extremely poor but there was an improvement during the past decade.

In the rolling plan, 1990–1992, for example, out of a total sum of NGN 700 000 approved in the budget, NGN 340 000 were released and spent by NIOMR on its aquaculture capital project, Research into Fish and Shellfish Breeding for Mass Production of Fish Seeds (see also Table 9). In addition, approximately NGN 700 000 were released, out of a total approved budget of NGN 1.8 million for another capital project at ARAC on the strengthening of research and training facilities. Allocations made to NIOMR in 1991 were rather limited (Table 12). Similar poor funding was recorded at NIFFR and the universities.

Between 1986 and 1989 (Table 5), DFRRI, through the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, released approximately NGN 1.74 million to the two research institutes for upgrading of hatcheries, feed mills and accessories, and for strengthening of their extension units.

Foreign donor agencies have also assisted in funding specific aquaculture research projects in Nigeria. The International Foundation for Science assisted NIOMR (1975–1981) in funding a research project on the biology of the catfish C. nigrodigitatus, and the hatchery production of fingerlings for distribution to farmers. The European Economic Community is funding a research project at ARAC on ‘Applied Research for the Innovation of a Pond Culture Scheme with Freshwater Fish in the Oil Palm Belt of Nigeria’. Since 1992, a World Bank-assisted aquaculture project is in the pipeline at NIOMR.


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