Tilapia fish of the future

Barrath is the owner and manager of the 25-acre tilapia fish farming enterprise, the Nariva Aquafarm Company Ltd, located at Plum Mitan.

“The nutritional value of tilapia equates to the protein content of local marine species such as red snapper, carite and king fish. Tilapia also has Omega three Lipids and Omega six Lipids, which is recommended for maintaining a healthy heart,” Barrath said

(Omega Three Lipids and Omega Six Lipids are fatty acids that help to maintain a strong heart.)

Barrath revealed that tilapia is especially recommended for young children and older people because it’s quick cooking, tasty, easily digestible and assimilates well into the body’s system.

“It’s also the recommended fish species to begin fish farming with because it’s hardy, can tolerate poor water quality and there are few water borne diseases existing locally that will harm it,” he said.

The major reason why he decided to become involved in tilapia farming was out of “patriotism and compassion for his fellow Trinbagonians.”

“I want to ensure that high quality fish products are available for the citizens of this country and to provide employment and technical training for the rural citizens of Plum Mitan.” Barrath noted that tilapia farming is in its infancy in TT in that it was only used as subsistence farming years ago but it’s only within recent times that the fish is being commercially farmed.

“There are about five commercially viable tilapia fish farming enterprises currently in TT,” he said.

He’s proud of his budding commercial enterprise which he said is unique in the country.

“There aren’t any fish farms existing in TT which use paddle wheels, aeroters and large earthen ponds in its production process,” claimed Barrath.

It was in 1950, he noted, that the then British colonial government introduced tilapia to Trinidad from St Kitts. He said this was done at Bamboo Grove Fish Farm in Valsayn.

“There are three types of tilapia suitable for commercial fish farming.

The first one is the black coloured or Mossambica, the second is the silver coloured Nilotica which is the Nile Tilapia and the third is the Red Hybrid Tilapia.

This one is more popular in the Caribbean but the silver and black are more popular in North America and Western Europe.”

He said his farming venture has a high density of production, in that anyone throwing a cast net into a pond can catch many fish.

He added that his enterprise is an eco-friendly project in that no chemicals are being used and no water is being drained into the environment.

“Two reservoirs are being used, one is a fresh water reservoir and the other is a recirculating water reservoir.

Special filtering and conservation techniques are being utilised.

Current production capacity is approximately 15,000 pounds of whole fish per annum but with current expansion works at the farm, we’d be taking our production to over half a million pounds per annum,” he said.

Barrath received a Certificate of Environ-mental Clearance approval from the Environmental Management Authority for his enterprise, as well as approval from the Water and Sewerage Authority.

Additionally, a loan is being processed by the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) for more expansion work for his enterprise.

“I’ve also received authorisation from the Ministry of Health, Drainage Department and the Chief Veterinary Officer.”

China, India, Taiwan and the Phillipines are, according to Barrath, the chief commercial tilapia fish producing nations while the major commercial markets for it are North America and Western Europe.

He disclosed that tilapia farming is increasing globally at around ten percent annually, representing approximately 40 percent of all sea food consumption.

“This equates to 54 million metric tonnes per annum which then equates to almost US $70 billion per annum with tilapia representing 20 per- cent of all protein consumed in the world, including beef, pork, chicken, turkey, ham and other fish products.”

Currently the president of the Aquaculture Association of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT), Barrath revealed that the focus and mission of the AATT is to develop a sustainable and viable tilapia industry.

“We want to accomplish this by being a strong lobby group for the sector and to provide training and seminars for fish farmers,” he said.

Barrath believes, tilapia is the culinary dish of the future in TT.

The AATT was founded on September 15, 2001 at the Sugar Cane Feed Centre, Longdenville.

Other members of the AATT’s executive are Dr Indar Ramnarine, first vice-president; Sven C Harris, second-vice president; Jonathan Joseph, secretary; Margaret Edwards-Barran, treasurer and Herman Lee King, public relations officer.


"Tilapia fish of the future"

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