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General News of Tuesday, 20 November 2018


Chinese-owned tilapia farm reopens; government says its tilapia is safe

Government has cleared the Chinese-owned farm at Asutuare in the Greater Accra Region where large quantities of tilapia fish mysteriously died last month.

It said tilapia from the Fujian Farm which was shut down following the October 19 incident and nearby farms “pose no public health risk to the consuming public”.

However, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture said fish from the farms will be inspected before they are allowed for sale to the public.

Large quantities of tilapia fish being reared at the farm died under strange circumstances, triggering suspicions they may have died from poison.

The situation caused panic among the tilapia consuming public at the time, despite assurances by the Ghana Aquaculture Association which said the situation was contained.

Samples of the fish, said to have been imported into the country, which others believed were genetically modified, were taken for laboratory tests within and outside the country.

Results from UK and France laboratories as well as those from the Ghana Standards Authority released by the government Monday “indicated negative for any poisonous materials” in the ponds in which the fish were killed.

“Our fears of poisonous substances have been ruled out from the diagnostic reports received so far,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture on November 19 assured.

Government said investigations revealed that the Kpong Dam was spilled the day before the fish kill incident, and that clinical observations of the dead fishes showed “clouded gills with high hyperemia of the gills and excessive mucus exudation”

These signs, it explained, suggest that there was a problem with the environment of the fishes the farm and that “the cause of the kill could either be a foreign matter in the environment or low dissolved oxygen”

It said this was corroborated by the results received from M/S Aquavet Solutions representing ICYTO Pharma, a lab in France.

The laboratory, according to the Ministry, identified the presence of “streptococcus agalactiae” as possible cause of deaths of the fish at the farm.

This virus, it noted, was not new in the industry as it has since 2005 been affecting the industry, adding an “autogenous vaccine” has always been used to address mortalities arising out of the virus.

Based on these reports, the Ministry said it has caused the Fujian Farm and other nearby farms which were closed down after the fish kill, to reopen for business.

Effects of continuous closure

The Ministry said the continuous closure of the farms could have dire consequences on the industry, hence their reopening.

“Considering that the continuous closure of the farm could lead to high production cost and its attendant high prices for the consumer, the farms have therefore been opened”.

Meanwhile it said a lot of measures are being taken by the Fish Unit of the Fisheries Commission together with the farms to avoid recurrence of the incident.

These measures includes strict implementation of biosecurity and sanitary measures, application of appropriate targeted vaccine for streptococcus agalactiae, examination of the feed production facility and continuous monitoring of the farms.

“We are of the view that these farms would cooperate with is to achieve the desired results in the interest of the general public,” the statement said.