“Blue Tilapia farmed in Peru in raceways is a Best Choice”: The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch

Raul Pajaro Sanchez

More countries are joining Tilapia farming. Despite the fact that production is dominated by China, emerging markets appear with good and responsible practices.

An ancestral fish whose origins, according to research, are from the Middle East and Africa. This fish has been present since the times of the pharaohs and immortalized in some Egyptian tombs, evidencing its importance in the Ancient Egyptian diet. This fish is the Tilapia, loved by some and rejected by others.
The Tilapia, whose records indicate that it was the fish that Jesus used in the miracle of the multiplication of the fish in the Sea of Galilee, is possibly the oldest farm-raised fish in the world and is also known as the 'St. Peter's Fish’, according whit Sea Food Health Facts.

Today this fish is produced in more than 80 countries, with China being the largest producer, with 45% worldwide. But new markets have emerged such as Peru and Ecuador, in Latin America, Mexico and the United States, in North America, and Taiwan and Indonesia, in Asia, are making their way into the world of Tilapia.

For example, in Peru, known worldwide for its great variety in maritime gastronomy, Tilapia was introduced in the mid-1950s, but it was not until the 1970s that the development of aquaculture for this fish began. Although its large production is concentrated to be distributed in local markets, this has not prevented it from being exported to other countries such as the United States.

Good practices and responsibility towards the environment have allowed Peru to deliver good quality Tilapias to the markets, since they use the recirculation aquaculture technique, which means that the culture water is reused after being treated or purified by physical, chemical and biological methods.

For this, mechanical filters are used whose function is to eliminate solid waste from fish and food. Biofilters remove all toxic components (such as ammonia) and eventually carbon dioxide is removed from the water before being sent to the pond. This cycle guarantees the maximum well-being and weight gain of the fish.

This quality is approved by The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, who helps consumers and businesses make choices for a healthy ocean, and say that “blue Tilapia farmed in Peru in raceways is a Best Choice. There's little or no chemical use, and effluent is treated and used to irrigate agricultural lands. Only a small amount of fishmeal is used in the feed, and it's sourced from fisheries that are not overfished”.

Approximately 100 grams of Tilapia provide 130 calories, that is to say that it is a low calorie species, and nutritionally it contains Vitamins B, Iron02, Selenium, Zinc and omega 3, in addition to being in the number six position of fish with less mercury equalled with Sardine and below salmon and anchovies, according to studies by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from United Estates.

In general, Tilapia is a mass-consumed fish that has been gaining a very good reputation among fish consumers. Good practices and environmental responsibility are the pillars for people to obtain a high quality fish, but what are the challenges and the future of fish Farming Tilapia? This question will be resolved on January 12, 20 and 26 at the event ‘The Future of Fish Farming Tilapia’.

This event is open to the entire community and you can register here.   

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