The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has placed a ban on the importation of all ornamental fishes and tilapia species.
This is a proactive measure to tackle the emerging Tilapia lake virus.
The ban will last for six months and will take effect from the July 1.
Cases of the virus have been reported across some parts of Africa, Asia and South America, threatening the global tilapia industry.
“Tilapia Lake Virus is a newly emerging virus that is associated with significant mortalities in farmed tilapia. The attention of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) has been drawn to the fact that, cases have been reported across Africa, Asia and South America that the virus represents a huge risk to the global tilapia industry,” the Ministry said in a statement.
The Head of Aquatic Animal Health Unit of the Fisheries Commission, Dr. Peter Ziddah, advised consumers to be vigilant and report any suspected case to the ministry.
“This disease, if it enters into our waters, we would have a problem for both the cultured tilapia and the wild tilapia,” he told Citi News.
“This thing is to help the people at the borders to be able to stop the import of these fishes into the country. We are continuing our surveillance and we are going to do active surveillance to make sure we don’t get it into the country. But the first point is to make sure the borders are protected.”
The Ministry in its earlier statement said “consumers and stakeholders are therefore advised to report any issues arising from or related to this issue to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development. The Ministry will also update the public on any new developments on this in due time.”
It also said it will “follow up with capacity building and awareness creation programmes at different levels to farmers, hatchery operators, extension officers, and consumers and the general public to support the implementation of simple farm-level biosecurity programmes.”
Some of the reported symptoms of infected fish include reddened skin, inflammation of organs including the eyes and brain, liver damage, and eventual organ failure and death.
The mortality rate is about 80-100% of infected fish, according to research at the American Society for Microbiology.