Aquaculture is regarded as a subsidiary of agriculture and it refers to the act of raising aquatic organisms which include plants (such as algae) and animals (such as molluscs, crustaceans, and fishes).
In Nigeria, many people often assume aquaculture is the variant form of fish farming and when aquaculture happens to be the talking point in any conversation, fish farming is what dozens of Nigerians tend to discuss.
However, in reality, fish farming is only a component of aquaculture since it focuses solely on the cultivation of fish(es) probably for human consumption and for the commercialization of fish by-products.
History Of Aquaculture In Nigeria
The history of aquaculture in Nigeria is as significant as fish farming since fish farming is the most dominant component of aquaculture in the country. Although aquaculture comprises other components namely seaweed farming, algaculture, shrimp farming, mariculture, rearing of ornamental fish and oyster farming, fish farming is the commonest component practiced by more than 90% of aquaculture farmers in Nigeria. Therefore, this article attempts to discuss the history of aquaculture in Nigeria using fish farming as the subject matter.
The history of aquaculture in Nigeria can be dated as far back as the early days of fish farming. Although fish farming of then was not relevant as it is today, it served as a source of food as well as commercial gains to those who practiced it. According to reports, fish farming had been in practice before Nigeria gained independence from British colonialists. At the time the British colonialists began exploring Nigeria’s vast aquatic resources precisely during World War II (1939 – 1945), they developed an interest in some of the countries’ aquatic potentials among which were fisheries. In 1941, the colonial administration set up a fishery organization in Lagos which served as the then capital of Nigeria.
The colonialists developed more interest in fish farming and soon, they proposed to carry out exploratory experiments on the lagoons, lakes, and ponds in Lagos. The experiments were carried out successfully and at a later time –precisely in 1945 –the colonial administration added the fishery organization to the Department of Commerce and Industries to make it serve as a subsidiary of the latter. By the 1950s, the fishery organization had metamorphosed tremendously and soon, its name was changed to Federal Fisheries Services.
Few years before Nigeria’s independence, the Federal Fisheries Services experienced a dichotomy of operations between the federal government headed by British colonialists and the regional governments (comprising the East, the West, and the North). Precisely, the objective of splitting the operations of the Federal Fisheries Services into two was achieved in 1954 and it fostered the development of fish farming in Nigeria.
From 1960 to 1970, Nigeria’s volume of fish catch grew by ten folds and this encouraged more Nigerians to venture into fish farming. Today, fish farming has become one of the fastest-growing farming businesses in Nigeria. Some of the commonest fishes grown in the country are prawn, tilapia, and catfish.
Contributions from both private and public sectors have kept fish farming in a vibrant condition in spite of the challenges experienced by some fish farmers across the country. During his reign as the governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki made a decision to establish a farming estate which would contribute to the development of fish farming in the State.
Problems of Aquaculture in Nigeria
Aquaculture, as well as other subsets of farming, is associated with challenges some of which have made it a delicate business to do in Nigeria. Since fish farming is the commonest component of aquaculture practiced in Nigeria, this article shall treat the problems of fish farming as those of aquaculture.
Fish farming is one of the farming businesses that cause pollution to the environment. Wastes produced as a result of fish farming can accumulate and form pathogens which, in turn, cause the spread of disease. Some of the negative consequences fish farming wastes may have on the environment are eutrophication and decrease in the level of DO (Dissolved Oxygen). Other harmful effects of fish wastes on the environment are poisoning of aquatic animals, production of pathogenic micro-organisms and the break-up of fish assemblage in the natural habitat such as rivers.
Constraints on the Use of Land
Candidly, the land restriction is one of the problems which affect nearly all farming businesses in Nigeria. Many fish farmers usually have the desire to practice fish farming on a large scale just to maximize their commercial gains. In this regard, a substantial tract of land will be needed for fish farming but most intending farmers can hardly afford to buy sufficient acres of land for constructing as many as necessary fish ponds.
Over the years, Nigeria has experienced a fair increase in the volume of fish production. However, on a sad note, the present level of fish production is fairly below the huge demands for fish and fish products in the country.
Shortage of Water
On any grounds, water seems to be the lifeblood of fish farming since fish(es) are aquatic animals and will not survive if deprived of water. Under every circumstance, adequate supply of water is needed on a regular basis for fish farming to be practiced effectively.
The inadequacy of water supply is one of the problems suffered by many Nigerian towns and villages. Also, many fish farmers can’t afford to equip their fish ponds with borehole water due to the associated expenses.
The Inadequacy Of Technical Know-how
Every farming business demands adequate technical know-how and fish farming is apparently a delicate thing to practice because fishes show habitual reactions to their feeds and environment. Today, many people practise fish farming in Nigeria but lack of expertise deprives them of substantial commercial gains.
Many fish farmers in Nigeria do not possess the in-depth knowledge needed in many aspects of fish farming such as the construction of fish ponds, the selection of fish feeds and the kind of water best suited for rearing fishes. Also worthy of note is the effective management of fishes and how to prevent fish wastes from causing excess pollution to the environment.
That’s all about The History Of Aquaculture In Nigeria and Problems.