May 21, 2024
Food & BeveragesInternational News

Farmed Fish Healthy as Aquatic Fish – WorldFish Director

“I have since learnt and can confirm that ⁴farmed fish are healthy when organically raised and I have enjoyed this business from the corner of my house”, Elder Toye Olori beams with smiles to Healthstyleplus

Elder Olori, veteran Journalist at 72 is enjoying his retirement from the pen-profession as a fish farmer in his modest home in Journalists Estate, Arepo, Ogun State.

Daily, he feeds the fingerlings and tend to the catfish in his two tanks from where he has been selling for four years after retirement.

Elder Olori

Indeed, famed fish are as healthy as fish from aquatic habitats says WorldFish Scientist, Dr. Rodrigue Yossa Nouaga.

Farmed fish like we see at ToyeFarms are domestic fish in tanks or artificial enclosures that feed on fortified feeds while aquatic fish breed in natural waters.

Dr. Rodrigue Yossa Nouaga, Director of Aquatic Food Biosciences at WorldFish debunks the widely-held belief that farmed fish might not be as healthy for human consumption as the fish caught in the wild.

Rodrigue Yossa Nouaga

He says “Both farmed and wild-caught fish can be part of a healthy diet”.

WorldFish is currently managing the project titled ‘Development and Scaling of Sustainable Feeds for Resilient Aquatic Food Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (FASA),’ which goal is to develop low-cost, highly nutritious fish feeds based on novel ingredients and enable 5,000 smallholder fish farmers in three African countries—including Nigeria.

The project aims to test and adopt these ingredients and feeds, leading to increased income, improved food security, and reduced waste and pollution.

According to Nouaga, fish’s nutritional benefits will depend on factors specific to the various species. The nutritional benefits depend also on the different diets of the fish and the environment. The nutritional benefit will equally rely as well on the nature of contaminants or pollutants exposed to them

This he said to dispel the unproven notion about farmed fish.

Nouaga noted that it is important for consumers to be aware of the source of their fish and to consider factors such as sustainability, environmental impact, and the overall quality and safety of the fish when making choices about their seafood consumption.

Farmed fish from ToyeFarms

The Fish Scientist was previously the Global Lead on Fish Feed and Nutrition at WorldFish. He notes that the organization considers many factors in its activities centering on aquaculture and fish feed production for farmed tilapia.

He says local fish farmers supported by WorldFish generally raise their fish—mainly tilapia—in controlled environments such as ponds, tanks, or enclosures, which can allow for monitoring and management of factors like water quality, diet, and disease control.

“Farmed fish are often fed specific diets to ensure balanced nutrition, which can result in consistent quality and levels of nutrients.

Plus, he added that such fish experience less exposure to environmental contaminants than some wild-caught fish, as they are not subject to the pollutants found in some natural water bodies”.

As Toye Olori shares his experience with our Correspondent, farmed fish is a profitable business that is managed within controlled and safe environment.

He however lamented that the present economic situation is hitting the business “because a bag of fish feed I was buying at ₦1500 at the start of business four years ago is now ₦12,800/₦13000 due to current exchange rates thus, affecting the sales of our products as well.”

Nouaga describes the availability and cheaper cost of farmed fish as more advantageous. He adds, “For economic reasons, farmed fish can easily breed for specific traits such as faster growth or improved flavor”.

Speaking about faster growth, the scientist says when fish are in the wild, they have to source their food, which might be elusive in certain situations, thereby impacting their growth, such that a 10-year-old fish in the wild, for instance, might have the same weight as a year-old farmed fish.

“A young fish is likely to be tastier, fresher, and more nutritious than a 10-year-old fish,” he submits.

He adds that since the fish in the wild are omnivorous, feeding on algae, plankton, insects, and small fish, all of which leads to higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and a potentially more diverse range of nutrients, fish farmers are also innovating, using local ingredients containing algae, plankton, insects and single-cell protein to make feed for farmed tilapia, so that they do not miss out on what they would have benefited were they to be in the wild.

The Scientist adds that when sourced from responsible aquaculture practices, farmed tilapia can be a sustainable option with less impact on wild populations.

“When produced using responsible and sustainable practices, it can minimize the impact on natural ecosystems,” Nouaga says; adding, “It’s important for consumers to be aware of the source and production practices of the tilapia they purchase, as responsible aquaculture practices can mitigate environmental impacts and provide a sustainable seafood option.”

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