Let’s all protect our favourite tilapia and other fishes

Ghanaians naturally like fish – catfish, mudfish, herrings, anchovies, salmon, tuna, snapper and many others. In all our traditional dishes, the love for fish features predominantly.

Tilapia, undoubtedly is one of our favourites and arguably one the most expensive fishes to purchase and consume.

It is estimated that Ghanaians consume more than 950, 000 metric tons of fish annually as at last quarter of 2017. Due to the depletion in Ghana’s fish stocks in 2016, it resulted in the importation of fish worth US$135 million.

It was reported that Ghana imported over 60 per cent of fish in 2017 due to its increasing demand.    In view of the boom and demand in the industry, some suppliers go every length to satisfy the increasing demands of the people.

This process has opened the way for some suppliers to trade unwholesome fish in the market. Such fish, if consumed might result in cancer, some medical doctors have warned.

However, in as much as we have the habit for eating fish, it is also important that all regulatory bodies ensure the safety of the public by enabling a system that will make it increasingly difficult for unwholesome quantity of fish to exist in the market.

Notwithstanding the demand for fish, some suppliers have devised dubious means of preserving the species with the aim of preserving them for future consumption.

Last year, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng revealed some fish sellers were using formalin – a chemical used to preserve dead bodies, to preserve dried tilapia, popularly called “Koobi”.

The revelation sent shivers down the spine of the public, resulting in low patronage of fish in most of the markets nationwide. Some civil society groups and individuals called for the perpetrators to be arrested and prosecuted.

In view of demand for tilapia, some Chinese entrepreneurs have taken over the industry. It has been reported that the type of tilapia species currently supplied by the Chinese onto the Ghanaian markets are exotic strings. Exotic string of tilapia is a type of tilapia species that cannot be found in the country.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has warned that Chinese fish farmers who use exotic strings in the production of tilapia will be dealt with accordingly. This follows some unwholesome fish that reportedly made their way into the local markets.

Again, the director for aquaculture of the Ministry, Mr. Matthew Oyih told the Goldstreet Business his office has taken the needed safety measures to ensure the safety of tilapia consumers across the country after several concerns were raised on the production of tilapia by some Chinese.

“The issues we have with the Chinese so far is the fact that they are using exotic strings on tilapia which grows faster than our local species and that doesn’t give a level playing field of other players in the industry who are using the local strings”, he lamented.

We at Goldstreet Business believe that this development is a worrying trend, in view of the health implications concerned and the many people who prefer to eat fish as a delicacy.

The Ministry of Fisheries has already ordered the indefinite closure of Fujian Farms, a Chinese fish farm at Asutsuare in the Eastern Region after tones of tilapia were destroyed after they were found to have died.

Goldstreet Business therefore entreats stakeholders, major players and regulatory bodies to be more proactive in putting the right measures in place to ensure that fishes that exist in the market and in our waters are wholesome for public consumption.