At a meeting held last week, experts from the KSBB, the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, and the College of Fisheries, Panangad, voiced their concern about the impact of genetically improved species on native biodiversity, reports TheHindu.
The GIFT strain of Nile tilapia is preferred by farmers in many countries due to its quick growth and adaptability to various environmental conditions.
S. Ajayan, Joint Director of Fisheries, said the proposal was to promote cage culture of GIFT in reservoirs, dams, rivers and lakes. It involves selective breeding of Nile tilapia. He said a trial project done by Matsyafed had proved to be a success.
KSBB chairman Oommen V. Oommen said the board was opposed to cage culture of GIFT in connected waterbodies because of the inherent risks.
Experts fear that the accidental release of fish could result in hybridisation with existing wild species and competitive exclusion of native fishes from their habitat.
The KSBB has insisted on regulated aquaculture in isolated cement tanks. It has proposed an expert committee to monitor the project. K.P. Laladhas, Member Secretary, KSBB, said the mass production and culture of the endemic pearl spot would be more desirable.
“In the absence of a proper assessment of the invasive potential of Nile tilapia, the proposal is fraught with risks,” said K.G. Padmakumar, former Associate Director of Research, Kerala Agricultural University.