Fish Farming and Ranching on the Red Sea in Eritrea
Of the various types of fish, shrimp, and crab farmed in Eritrea, mullet and milkfish are among the most adaptable of the species being cultured. These fish can live in fresh, salt, or brackish water, are extremely resistant to disease and consume naturally occurring foodstuffs such as algae, plankton, and insects. Fingerlings are collected easily among the mangroves along the seashore, then are transported to manmade shoreline ponds where they are nurtured to maturity. Fingerlings average one to one and a half inches at the onset and grow to a mature fish of eight to ten inches within four months.
To assure an ample supply of algae for fish culture, a unique, economic, natural system is used. First, animal waste is collected and deposited in a fermenting pond. Sheep, chickens, goats, and camels provide an ample supply of waste. After 4 to 7 days the water in the fermenting pond is filtered and pumped to a second pond where algae growth occurs, several days later the algae pond is purged into the fish ponds as food. Commercial fertilizers could be added to promote growth in the algae pond if shortages were to occur.
Yellow-finned black sea bream like mullet and milkfish are extremely adaptable to changes in water temperature and salinity. However, unlike mullet or milkfish, sea bream are carnivorous. In nature they live either in the coral reefs offshore or in bays around the roots of mangrove trees where they feed upon small crabs, shrimp, plankton, barnacles, clams and other organisms. Sea bream fingerlings are captured with nets and are presently being cultured in a 50 by 50 by 4 foot shoreline pond and in fish cages. They are fed small crabs and fish unfit for human consumption as well as entrails and other parts that are normally disposed of when harvesting fish. Growth rates are high for sea bream, a 4 inch fingerling will grow to 18 inches in five to six months.
The red snapper's habitat and diet is similar to that of the sea bream. Because of this, the two species can live in the same environment. Snapper are raised in both sea cages and ponds and grow to 28 inches. Emperor and grouper are the two remaining fish being farmed in the present project. Both are cultured only in cages and are fed small fish and crabs.
Emperor fish and grouper grow to a length of 28 inches, are delicious when prepared, and have a high market value.
Crabs are another harvestable product of the MANZANAR project. One pond which is 33 feet square is presently devoted to crab production and is expected to provide a harvest in 4 month cycles.
Three species of shrimp are easily netted along the Red Sea shoreline. All three when seeded in a single 30 by 30 foot pond grow up to eight inches in length at collection time.
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