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Kevin Fitzsimmons Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science University of Arizona Tucson, Arizona, 85706 United States

Fitzsimmons, K. 2000. Future trends of tilapia aquaculture in the Americas. Pages 252–264 in B.A. Costa-Pierce and J.E. Rakocy, eds. Tilapia Aquaculture in the Americas, Vol. 2. The World Aquaculture Society, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States.


Tilapia is a relatively new seafood product in the Americas. Aquaculture of tilapia in the Ameri- cas began with small scale culture for subsistence farming in the late 1960s and 1970s. Large scale production and international trade of tilapia prod- ucts developed in the 1980s and 1990s. Rapid in- creases in production can be attributed to improvements in aquaculture technology and infra- structure in several nations in the Americas that are major producers, and to greater numbers of trained biologists. Increases in consumption of tilapia are the result of more consumer recognition, improved quality, variety of product forms, better marketing, and overall increased demand for fish products. The Mozambique tilapia, Oreochromis mossambicus, was the first species widely distributed in the Ameri- cas and still accounts for a significant proportion of tilapia production. Other tilapia species, hybrids and strains have since become more popular. In the fu- ture, we can expect a decrease in the number of spe- cies farmed. However, the industry is likely to see increases in the number of strains or breeds of O. niloticus and red hybrid strains available. The vol- ume of tilapia produced in the Americas is likely to double in the next 10 y. Most of these increases will occur in tropical regions. Temperate regions will see a moderate increase in production that will prima- rily supply niche markets for live fish and local fresh product. In both the tropics and temperate zones, production will become more intensive with more complete diets, aeration, water reuse, and disease control as important factors. Another trend that is likely to continue is increased processing in the country of origin. Levels of sophistication in pro- duction, processing, and packaging have risen con- siderably in recent years and this trend will continue. Several countries have adopted Hazard Analysis at Critical Control Points (HACCP) as the basis for their processing regulations, which will facilitate ex-

port of tilapia products to the US and Europe. Tech- nology, equipment, and expertise are rapidly spread- ing from the US, Europe and Israel to Latin America and the Caribbean. Domestic markets outside the US and Canada are also absorbing higher value forms of tilapia. This increase in demand for filleted and packaged products has benefited producers outside the US by reducing transportation costs and smooth- ing out demand swings. Organization of the Tilapia Marketing Institute (TMI) should provide a further boost to demand in the US. TMI was founded in 1998 and funded ($250,000) by several large producers and marketers. The goal of TMI is increasing aware- ness and demand for tilapia products.


Global Tilapia Production

Total world landings of tilapia from capture and culture increased from 515,000 t in 1984 to 1.16 million t in 1995. Most of the increase in produc- tion is the result of aquaculture. Between 1984 and 1995, the contribution of cultured tilapia to total ti- lapia landings increased from 38% (198,000 t) to 57% (659,000 t). Four cichlid species or species groups (O. niloticus, O. mossambicus, O. aureus, and unidentified tilapias) dominated production be- tween 1984 and 1995; in 1995, these accounted for 99.5% of cichlid production. Global production was influenced greatly by rapid expansion of O. niloticus culture in China, the Philippines, Thailand, Indone- sia and Egypt. O. niloticus dominates global tilapia culture. Its share of total tilapia production increased from 33% or 66,000 t in 1984 to 72% or 474,000 t in 1995. China is now the leading producer, having increased production from 18,000 t in 1984 to 315,000 t in 1995 (FAO 1997).


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