Fisheries, fish culture, tilapias and politics
C.H. FERNANDO AND J.J.S. GURGEL
In the past few years much attention has been focused on dwindling marine fish stocks and the means available to counter the effects of this growing problem. Over fishing has been targeted as the main cause. Many newspaper and magazine articles on the subject of over fishing have been added to the growing scientific journal publications and books. Conservation measures are being implemented but their impacts will very likely not reverse the trend. One option to provide more fish for human consumption is through fish culture which, since traditional techniques began to be modernized in earnest in the 1950's, has been expanding rapidly. With the exception of production in China, efforts with the major carps have not been very productive, especially in tropical countries, and these and several other fishes currently in culture have relatively limited possibilities of substituting the shortfall of marine fish in the future. The tilapias, on the other hand, have shown much greater potential recently, and are increasingly marketed worldwide. In two or three decades, farming tilapias may prove to be the means of supplying a large quantity of fish to fill the increasing gap between demand and supply. Furthermore, tilapias can contribute additional resources through integration with traditional reservoir fisheries and rice-fish culture. This paper explores these growing changes in tilapia culture and inland fisheries especially in the tropics. We do not claim any deep knowledge nor are we predicting the economical and sociological impacts of the winds of change affecting fisheries worldwide.