Everyday News Update

How Aquaculture Is Threatening the Native Fish Species of Africa – Yale Environment 360

In 1995, Adrian Piers, a veteran aquaculture consultant, imported a batch of Australian red claw crayfish to the tiny southern African monarchy of Swaziland. He began raising the attractive blue-green crustaceans — the males of which have red stripes on their claws and can weigh a little more than a pound — in ponds rented from a sugar estate, and soon found a market for them among French-style chefs in neighboring South Africa.

In 2001, citing lower-than-desired profits, he closed his operation in Swaziland and legally moved some crayfish almost 750 miles north to his home country of Zambia. Piers kept them temporarily at Kafue Fisheries, a friend’s commercial farm, while searching for a permanent place to breed them. “Unfortunately he was a bit new to the crayfish, and they managed to get out,” Piers explains. The crayfish were soon found thriving in the nearby Kafue River, one of Zambia’s largest, and in waterways near his old Swazi farm, too, even though he had dried out his ponds before he left. Someone (Piers won’t say who) then unofficially put some in Lake Kariba, the giant man-made lake between Zambia and Zimbabwe, where they are now proliferating.

Piers no longer farms red claw crayfish — in fact, no one appears to be farming them at scale in Africa — but they are spreading rapidly throughout the southern part of the continent, from Swaziland into nearby parts of South Africa and Mozambique, through the Kafue River system, up and down the mighty Zambezi, and into Namibia and Zimbabwe. Biologists now fear that the invasive red claw could reach the renowned Okavango Delta and radically disrupt the ecology of that Botswanan wildlife paradise, which supports an economically vital ecotourism industry.

Africa’s fast-growing human population demands ever-more fish, and with most of the continent’s wild fish populations fully exploited, investors are seeing new opportunities in aquaculture. Yet in the rush to promote fish farming, some are ignoring lessons from the recent past and introducing potentially harmful species to major water bodies, often without meaningful prior research, governmental control, or even viable business plans. The problem of aquatic invasive species in Africa is understudied and these species are now threatening the ecology of natural jewels like Lake Malawi.

How Aquaculture Is Threatening the Native Fish Species of Africa – Yale Environment 360

Leave a Reply

Featured Links

    Search Archive

    Search by Date
    Search by Category
    Search with Google

    Photo Gallery

    @2012 Designed By Quick News Update