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Mozambique tilapia was introduced in many Pacific islands in the 1950s and 1960s mostly by expatriate fisheries experts. The results were mixed by island and country. Wild Mozambique tilapia was well consumed by rural people in Melanesian islands of PNG, Solomon Islands and Fiji. Many of the Polynesian and Micronesian islands were disappointed with this tilapia. It turned out as a pest. Tilapia eradication was the main concern in some islands.

Nile tilapia was introduced to Fiji in 1968 as the first country in the region. Nile tilapia farming in Fiji that was originally promoted for subsistence purpose has now been growing well into different stages. Tilapia farming has become an important commercial activity and has played an important role in the national food security aspect.

Today Nile tilapia farming is being well developed in many Asian countries. In the Philippines, Mozambique tilapia was also once introduced into Laguna lake in the 1950s. This fish was soon overpopulated in the lake, but became unpopular to fisher-folk because of less food value, against the intention of the authority who introduced Mozambique tilapia. After incidental entrance of Nile tilapia into the lake in 1970s, appearance of tilapia was changed to attract the small fishermen and tilapia fishery gained popularity in the lake. Nowadays Nile tilapia cage-farming has become common practice in the lake together with milkfish pen-culture.

Nile tilapia has much advantage for farming compared to Mozambique tilapia because of ecological and production technique points. One of those advantages is that Nile tilapia feeds on Phyto-plankton, so that Nile tilapia is cultured by pond fertilization at low production cost as well as low technology. Nile tilapia dominated 72% of global tilapia culture and its production was 474,000 mt in 1995 (FAO, 1997).

Looking at the success of tilapia farming development in Fiji, several countries in the region have revalued tilapia as food fish. However, introduction of Nile tilapia must be assessed carefully in biological, environmental and social aspects. Meanwhile, restocking of Nile tilapia in the inland waters where Mozambique tilapia is not exploited at all and its eradication is totally impossible, might be an option to reactivate the valuable inland water resource for the sake of island food production after the example of Lake Laguna, as reef fish resources are declining in many islands.

The project supported the member countries to carry out taste tests of Nile tilapia towards an aid for overall assessment of Nile tilapia as food, prior to decision-making on introduction of this species into the islands.

Tanaka Hideyuki
Chief Technical Adviser

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