Aquaculture

Aquaculture or fishing farming in Liberia is being practiced as a way to contribute to food security in terms of increased food production, improved household access to food and improved utilization of farmland for food production.

Fish farming is a convenient source of fish supply to the rural part of Liberia, most especially the six non-coastal counties. It also provides better quality fish as, most often, fish is caught in the sea, is frozen and then sold in rural areas, but it is of poor quality due to bad handling. Fisheries in general contributed to 12 per cent of agricultural GDP and 3.2 per cent of national GDP in 2002. The contribution of aquaculture as an independent sector is unknown or perhaps negligible at the moment (FAO 2010).

Fish farmers are the primary stakeholders of the aquaculture sector. There are about 1050 part-time, subsistence fish farmers. Approximately 2500 people are involved in fish farming activities overall, including pond construction and management, extension services and fish harvesting. There is no detailed information on the gender ratio and the level of education of fish farmers, however, it can be assumed that 80 per cent of fish farmers are illiterate Aquaculture in Liberia is still in its infancy. A typical aquaculture farm has only one or two ponds ranging from 200 m2 to 400 m2 or even less, depending on land availability.

The production is usually extensive to semi-intensive with the use of very low inputs. Fingerlings left over during harvest are usually what the farmers use to stock their fish ponds with. Five main species are commonly cultured in Liberia: Nile tilapia, African catfish, Sampa, Mango tilapia and Red belly tilapia.

Nile tilapia, Tilapia zili and other tilapia varieties accounts for 95 per cent of production while African catfish and Heterobranchus spp account for the remaining five per cent. The use of exotic species is restricted to some extends despite the lack of formal law regarding its introduction into fish farming in Liberia. The Bureau of National Fisheries execute the restriction of the importation of exotic species in order to protect Liberia’s fish biodiversity.