Tilapia culture in trinidad and tobago: yet another update

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Professor Indar Ramnarine

University of the West Indies

Trinidad and Tobago


Indar W. Ramnarine

Department of Life Sciences

The University of the West Indies

St Augustine

Trinidad and Tobago


Capildeo Barrath

Aquaculture Association of Trinidad & Tobago
e-mail: Indar.Ramnarine@sta.uwi.edu


Production of tilapia began in Trinidad in 1951 with the culture of the Mozambique tilapia, Oreochromis mossambicus. In the years that followed, although attempts were made to commercialize its culture, tilapia production remained at a subsistence level with small earthen ponds being utilized. The Jamaica red tilapia was introduced in 1983 and during the years 1994 to 1998, commercial production was established at the state-owned company, Caroni (1975) Ltd. Production peaked at 26 tonnes in 1998. The facility was leased in 1999 but production declined until the project was terminated in 2000. There have been recent attempts at commercial culture by the Nariva Aquafarm and the Bamboo Grove Fish Farm. Production has increased since 2000 and the annual production is about 10 tonnes, with the Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, being the major species. There is again considerable interest in tilapia culture and this is being aggressively promoted by the Aquaculture Association of Trinidad & Tobago. Within the last year, there have been significant development; construction of a biofloc system by the Seafood Industry Development Company, a re-circulating system by the Institute of Marine Affairs, an Aquaponics system by a private investor, several hatcheries utilizing YY technology and several smaller enterprises. The trend is towards intensive culture in tanks. The forecast is for increased production especially as new investors continue to join the industry.


The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is located between 10°2' and 11°2' North Latitude and 60°30' and 61°50' West Longitude, just off the north-east coast of Venezuela, South America. Its climate is tropical, with an average temperature ranging from 21°C to 34°C. In general nighttime temperatures are usually 10°C to 15°C lower that during the day. There is a major dry season from late December to early May followed by a rainy season extending from late May to early December. The rainy season is interrupted by a short dry spell of mean duration two weeks and termed the petit careme. The average rainfall in NE Trinidad is around 3000 mm per annum while in NW and SW Trinidad, the rainfall is about 1500 mm per annum. The island of Trinidad is roughly rectangular in shape and has an area of 4760 square kilometers. There are three mountain ranges, the Northern Range (which is a continuation of the Andes), Central Range and Southern Range. The area between the Northern Range and Central Range is relatively flat and clayey in nature while the area between the Central Range and the Southern Range is gently rolling. Tobago occupies an area of 308 square kilometers and there is a single mountain range called the Main Ridge. There are several major drainages in both islands. In Trinidad, the major drainages are the Caroni, North Oropouche, Ortoire and South Oropouche whereas in Tobago, the major drainages are the Courland, Hillsborough and Goldsborough. There is therefore an ideal climate, abundant water and land resources for the development of an aquaculture industry, in particular tilapia aquaculture.

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