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Gambian Aquaculture

The earliest freshwater aquaculture trials (fish farming) were carried out in the 1970s and involved the culturing of Tilapia fish in small family fishponds by farmers in their rice fields in the fresh water zone of the river. The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) with assistance from the US Peace Corps (PCVs) and the Department of Fisheries has also carried out culture trials.

Such earlier efforts at pond culture failed to produce the desired production levels however, important lessons were learnt by the Fisheries Department which is has used to set up pilot fish ponds in the rice growing areas of Gambia.

Shrimp Farming: In 1982 a company called West African Aquaculture engaged in fish farming to raise the P. Monodon from lava to maturity. Of the original 200 ha only 50 are being used today which in 2006 produced 50 tonnes.

Two fish farms were being operated Pirang and Sanyang Point by Scan Gambia Ltd. of Norway who introduced the foreign Black Tiger Prawn (Peneaus monodon) in 1988 but closed down in 1992 due to financial problems.

1982, The Gambia: industrial farm, “West Africa Aquaculture” (WAAq) Semi-intensive farm raising  includes a hatchery and a processing plant producing to EUstandards. Of the original 200 hectares, only 50 are being used for production today. With a production of 50 tons in 2006, this farm is the only one in West Africa today with the capacity to serve as a base for modeling production methods adapted to the local context.

Oyster Culture:
The development of Oyster cultivation in Gambia has been a priority for the Government for some years now. The Department of Fisheries has conducted research studies on the mangrove oyster of West Africa Ostrea (Crassostrea) tulipa which indicates great commercial potential though the market has not yet been adequately identified. The rack system for harvesting the mollusk delicacy has proved a more efficient method for their exploitation that the more sustainable alternative than the current harvesting method and was less destructive on mangrove ecology. Policy makers want to encourage less destructive methods, increase oyster production as well as better access to credit facilities for low income producers.

Present Situation:
Aquaculture activities are currently being carried out by the Department of Fisheries in co-operation with Department of Agriculture. The pilot fish culture ponds at Sapu in the Central River Division is part of the continuing effort of the Department to assist farmers improve their incomes and nutritional status.

Several communities in the area have expressed interest in fish farming but lack adequate specialized equipment and knowledge of the technical processes associated with fish farming. Tilapia and Clarias senegalensis are the fish species to be considered for future culture in the trial rice fields of the project.

Potential Growth:
The development and growth of commercial aquaculture holds great possibilities and is hoped to decrease or hold the country's reliance on netted fish. This coupled with shrimp and oyster culture has the potential to be economically and naturally feasible within the area of the Gambia River's estuarine geography as well as the fresh water flood plains of the Central River Region for species such as catfish and Tilapia.

Commercial aquaculture entails culturing of high economic value species such as shrimps aimed at the export market.

Government Policy:
Due to the nutritional and economic potential of the aquaculture sector the Gambia Government's policy is to develop 3 areas of the aquaculture i.e. commercial, artisan and subsistence. The strategy includes the development of community participation, training farmers in pond construction methods and maintenance, tidal irrigation methods and access to loans.

Department of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Contact details:
The Quadrangle
The Gambia
West Africa
Tel: (220)  4228291 / 4228292
Fax: (220) 4228230
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