Tilapia Fish Species Threatening Waterways And Native Fish Across New South Wales

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  • Fishermen sort 'Tilapia' fingerlings at a fish farm in Sampaloc Lake in San Pablo city, south of Manila October 24, 2014. Picture taken October 24, 2014.
    Fishermen sort 'Tilapia' fingerlings at a fish farm in Sampaloc Lake in San Pablo city, south of Manila October 24, 2014. Picture taken October 24, 2014. Reuters/Stringer
  • Arsenal's Hector Bellerin (L) challenges Southampton's Sadio Mane during their English League Cup soccer match at the Emirates stadium in London September 23, 2014.
    Hector Bellerin (L) REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
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The tilapia, a fast-breeding African cannibal fish, is said to be threatening the north coast waterways across New South Wales. The fish feed on plants and animal matter and have the ability to survive in fresh as well as salt water. 

Dr Daniel Bucher, a marine expert from Southern Cross University, said that the tilapia fish was a quick breeder, growing more than 36 centimetres and living for a span of 13 years. He said that it carried its young ones in its mouth. He added that since they breed young in the mouth, they had a high success rate as well. He said that there is no real natural control on the tilapia fish species, a Class 1 noxious fish, and that the fish ate anything. The fish species are successful in being invasive because of the fact that they are mouth brooders. 

A Department of  Primary Industries strategy leader of Aquatic Biosecurity, Melissa Walker, said that the tilapia could hold more than 1,000 eggs in its mouth and could protect the eggs as well. She said that the eggs could survive in the mouth even if it were not living and added that if a person found a female Tilapia that had eggs in its mouth, the fish has to be disposed of appropriately. 

According to the Daily Telegraph, an angler caught in November a tilapia fish in Bongangar canal. The incident had sparked a full-scale response from the Department of Primary Industries, Aquatic Biosecurity Unit in New South Wales. 

Walker said that the highest risk for the transportation of the fish species was through humans who were carrying live fish or eggs. She added that if people caught or found a tilapia, it was important that it was not returned to the water. If anyone was found possessing, selling or buying the fish, they can face fines up to a sum of $11,000.

Walker said that the tilapia fish species posed a threat to the native fish of New South Wales and that since it was a successful breeder and invader, it could impact the native fish with regards to habitat and food. She added that the fish could behave aggressively as well and could attack native fish. She described the tilapia fish species as a "territorial fish."

According to Walker, the fish established nests in soft sediments and protected its area from other species. She said that if the tilapia fish was doing it in an area where native fish species are living, it would have a few negative impacts. 

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