NOMSA NKANA, Lusaka
AN AGRICULTURAL, fisheries and aquaculture consultant says calls by some stakeholders to ban importation of fish and fish eggs from countries affected by tilapia lake virus (TiLV) would rob the country of variety of fish from the global market.
Recently, some stakeholders in the sub-sector have appealed for suspension of imports of frozen fish, live fish and fish eggs from affected countries to protect fish stocks and fish farmers.
But Mr Adrian Piers said as aquaculture develops, there are also better varieties developing.
“Therefore, for Zambia to keep up with global trends, the country needs to import fish,” Mr Piers said in response to a query yesterday.
He said a distinction needs to be made between frozen fish that is intended for consumption, and live fish (including gametes) that are capable of transmitting the disease.
“Since a prophylactic vaccine for the TiLV virus has been developed in Israel, a stipulation that any live tilapia imported into Zambia should either come from stock that has been tested and found free of the disease, or have been vaccinated against it would provide some protection for local producers and wild stocks,” he said.
On a proposal to start issuing health certificates prior to imports, Mr Piers said this is not practical because there are global protocols on food safety that apply to imported tilapia.
He said according to established practice, the onus is on the exporting country to certify the quality of the product.
Mr Piers also said Zambia currently does not even have the expertise and facilities available to do a full analysis for this certification.