Tilapia fish can pose danger to ecosystems

Warea Orapa | 05 Sep 2023

While using the tilapia fish species for mosquito control may work for African regions (see Kenyan fish joins fight against malaria), elsewhere in the tropics — particularly in the Pacific Islands — we are concerned about the introduction of tilapia species because these fish have been troublesome to our freshwater ecosystems and associated biodiversity.

Tilapias were introduced into many waterways in Papua New Guinea during the 1980s and 1990s to improve fisheries, but their impact on local fish and other fauna were seen to be negative. These African fish have displaced native species in areas such as the Sepik River system in Papua New Guinea.

In the meantime, the incidence of malaria has not changed at all because most malaria-carrying anopheline mosquitoes breed in small pools of water such as those in empty containers and stagnant water pools, not in deep or running creeks infested with fish.

Tilapia species are among the most invasive species and are on the World Conservation Union's '100 of the World's Worse Invasive Species' list.

Let's not repeat the mistakes of the past.