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The Development of Commercial Farming of Tilapia in Jamaica 1979-1983


Popma, T, F. Ross, B. Nerrie, and J. Bowman

Date: 1984

Funding Agency: USAID

Keywords: jamaica, aquaculture, tilapia, international, development

Category: International Country Report

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A common reaction to
the idea of commercial fish farming

in Jamaica is to question
its appropriateness in a small country

surrounded by the sea.
This island, however, has long been a heavy

importer of fish.
The clear inshore waters so attractive to tourists do

not support a large
marine capture fishery, and many of the

productive offshore
fishing grounds near Central and South

American countries
have been lost because of expanded territorial

claims by many of these
countries. From 1973 to 1978, Jamaica,

with a total
population of approximately 2 million people, annually

imported an average
of 15,000 metric tons of fish. Imports would

likely have been
even higher if foreign exchange had not been

limiting. Thus, an
economically viable, local fish farming industry

becomes more

(Oreochromis) mossambica, locally known as the African

perch, was introduced
to Jamaica ‘in 1949. It flourished in irrigation

canals, and a
low-input subsistence level of management was

attempted in a few small
ponds. By 1977, a small hatchery and

research facility were
constructed, but the viability of commercial

tilapia farming had
not been demonstrated. In that year Auburn

University was
awarded a technical assistance contract:

(AI D/J a-C-1166) for
a USAID-sponsored Fisheries Development

Project (532-0038),
with Ken Randolph serving as Auburn’s first

resident advisor in
Jamaica. Project objectives were to evaluate the

economic potential of
commercial fish culture in Jamaica and to

increase Jamaica’s institutional capacity to implement a fish production

program. An
existing 16-pond complex, with approximately

10 hectares of
water, was acquired at the beginning of the

project. Upgrading and
expansion to 32 hectares were begun

concurrently with the
first production trials with monosex (male)

Tilapia mossambica fed
a commercial poultry ration. During the

period of 1978 to
1979, more than 50 tons of food-fish were

produced at this
farm and marketed mainly through the

government-owned Agricultural
Marketing Corporation.

Because of the high
production and the promising economic

analysis of the management
system, a follow-up project (532-0059),

jointly funded by the
Government of Jamaica and the USAID, was

begun in late 1979
to stimulate the development of warm water fish

culture in the
private sector. The following sections describe the

growth of commercial
farming of tilapia during the first 4 years of

that project.

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