Aquaculture is the fastest growing production sector in the world and stands at 50:50 on a global scale to capture fisheries. However, the industry has been hampered by various challenges led by poor pond management and lack of quality feed and seed. The absence and scarcity of quality fish seed is a bottleneck to the development of aquaculture in many countries leading to grow-out farmers sharing seed resulting from rearing of mixed sex. These in essence means that farmers have been stocking inbred seed resulting in high mortalities, deformities, poor growth and egg country among others. To address this, two national fish selective breeding programs for African catfish and Nile tilapia have been initiated at the National Aquaculture Research Development and Training Center- Sagana. Similar efforts through selective breeding are underway at KMFRI-Sangoro Research Station for Ningu (once a delicacy), a fish that is now very rare in the catches from L. Victoria.
Spurred by the global trends and the increased demand for fish and fish products, the Kenyan Government has taken bold steps to develop aquaculture in the country in line with stated objectives of Vision 2030. In 2009-2010 financial years, 27,000 new ponds were constructed with government support, and an additional 20,000 are planned for 2010-2011. This initiative known as Fish Farming Enterprise Productivity Program (FFEPP) under the Economic Stimulus Program has dramatically increased the demand for quality fish seed which was already in short supply. This has led to the ongoing up-scaling of fish seed production through broodstock improvement at NARDTC- Sagana, a technology to be passed latter on to the Multiplication Centers. Development of private hatcheries has led to easing of pressure on Government hatcheries and creation of employment to the rural poor.
Quality tilapia brooders stocked at a ratio of 1:2 (M:F) will have fry appearing around ten to fourteen days after stocking. The fry will be more easily visible during the early morning and early evening, swimming in schools. Each school of fry is usually the offspring of a single female. The fry should be caught using a hand net with a very fine mesh size, and counted, before being transferred to a suitably prepared fingerling pond for sex reversal using MTH. Counting of fry may be done by using a milk scoop, or a similar container whose capacity has been previously determined. Catfish gravid female brooders require inducement before pairing for spawning and fertilization of eggs in open troughs. Fry should be fed to satiation, water quality maintained and weekly grading carried out to separate shooters thus reducing canibbalism.
Seed standards are currently being developed to ensure standards for production are maintatined. This will help weed out rogue hatchery farmers who are likely to draw back the gains of aquaculture so far.