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Risks to small-scale cage farmers in Bangladesh, with emphasis on fish health experiences of the CARE-CAGES Project

Risks to small-scale cage farmers in Bangladesh, with emphasis on fish health experiences of the CARE-CAGES Project

FAO Fisheries Technical Paper (406): 215-223

The CARE-CAGES Project (Cage Aquaculture for Greater Economic Security) was initiated in September 1995, began cage-aquaculture activities in 1996, and is now working with approximately 4,200 households, through 45 partner non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The only pathogens that have been observed in caged fish are the parasitic isopod Alitropus typus (Milne-Edwards, 1840), and epizootic ulcerative syndrome (EUS). EUS effects mostly Java barb (Barbodes gonionotus) during the winter season, resulting in chronic low-level mortalities. Although found sporadically in other sites, A. typus only significantly effects cage-farming operations in one river in the Jessore region. It is suspected that the large amount of aquatic vegetation present in this river is a pre-requisite for large parasite numbers. This parasite makes cage culture impossible due to 100% fish mortalities in late spring. When the monsoon begins, parasite numbers reduce, and with lower numbers, there is milder damage and no mortalities. Other pathogens may be present, however, due to lack of appropriate resources, these have not been observed. Fish health concerns for CARE-CAGES largely relate to providing quality fingerlings and feeds, good site selection and cage management. A breakdown of mortalities for the CARE-CAGES project for 1998 and 1999 is provided, and key issues relating to fish health highlighted. Total losses of stocked fish were reduced from 36% in 1998 to 22% in 1999. All categories (stocking mortalities, mortalities during culture, escapees, poaching and other) were reduced, and this is due principally to greater farmer experience in this new culture system.

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