February 22, 2020

Rwanda Bans Imports of Tilapia Fish Over New Virus Outbreak

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The ministry of agriculture has banned the importation of Tilapia fingerlings in attempt to avoid spread of a rare disease that has emerged in the region.

Tilapia fingerlings are small juvenile Tilapia, which develop into the popular and tasty Tilapia fish species consumed widely all over the world.

There is an outbreak of the deadly Tilapia lake virua disease (TiLV) reported in various African countries. The virus is an infectious agent that has been identified in diseased tilapia on three continents, say scientists.

While of no concern to human health, note scientists, the consequences of infection with TiLV in tilapia populations may potentially result in socio economic losses and impacts on food security. Basically, the fish will be dying in huge numbers.

Rwanda lays in region dotted with many lakes, and is largely dependant on imports for fully grown fish and fingerlings for breeding.

In addition to ban on Tilapia fingerlings, the Agriculture minister Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana also says anyone seeking to import other fingerlings species is required to obtain special permission.

“Anyone caught importing live fish without the permit will be dealt with by the full force of the law,” said Dr Mukeshimana, in a statement issued Thursday.

For fish breeders and the fish industry as a whole, the agriculture ministry says for them to identify the new virus TiLV, they should look out for these particular signs on their stocks; When fish are dying in unusual numbers; blood stains on skins/scales of fish; peeling off of the skin; and strange changes of the fish eyes.

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