Saturday, November 30, 2013


Freshwater prawn from the Kunene river
Report by: 
A. Ngulu, M.N Ekandjo,  Le Diep Lan, O. Ndikwetepo  and Le Thien Ly

Background information preceding the trip
Prawn breeding and rearing is one of the objectives of the South-South Cooperation (SSC). This task is to be carried out at Ongwediva office. As per recommendations given by the FAO consultant, Dr. Francois Rajts, Ongwediva office was tasked to collect prawn brooders during the course of September to October, from the Kunene River. Previous collections have been done at the Kunene River Mouth by the Swakopmund staff together with the North-west staffs. This area is known to support a larger population of these aquatic organisms as they are known to be breeding there.

The Kunene River Mouth is within a Nature Reserve and at the same time a mineral protected area. Therefore for one to access this area, you need two permits, one from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Mines and Energy respectively. As narrated by one staff member that once travelled to the Kunene River Mouth, the road towards the mouth is very bad, it runs along the coast, whereby it may be damp at some point, with other parts passing through the sand dunes. There is no filling stations therefore one need to carry extra fuel. This seems to have discouraged the consultant as he opted for a better accessed site. According to the consultant, in other African rivers the African Fresh Water Prawn are widely distributed and may be collected at any point along the River stretch and believed that should be the case with the Kunene River. The local staff who have experience on the Kunene River through Annual Fisheries Biological Surveys, had tried to advise the consultant on how difficult can it be to collect prawns along the Kunene River stretch, given its flow regime (fluctuation in both flow and water levels).

The Kunene River Flow Regime is influenced by the water needed to run the turbines at Ruacana Hydropower Scheme. Water is released during the working days and closed during weekends. This flow regulation affects the river and its aquatic organisms. Apart from the Ruacana Hydropower effect, the river flow is also influenced by the two falls, one at Ruacana and the other one downstream at Epupa.

The consultant was not convinced by the information given by the local staff, only when he managed to travel along the Kunene River, between Ruacana and near Kunene River Lodge that he was able to understand this river. Together with other staff, the consultant attempted to sample for prawns in this stretch without catching any. The team agreed that, collection should only be done downstream of the second falls (Epupa). Downstream of Epupa, a prawn was collected once in 2009, by attaching itself on a gill net, made to sample the fish species. It was again advised by local staff who conduct the Annual Fisheries Biological Survey that, although prawns have been recorded downstream of Epupa (Otjinugua/Marienfluss), it may not be found in a required amount. After hearing the revelation on how difficult is it to reach the Kunene River Mouth, the consultant recommended that collection should be done downstream of Epupa Falls in order to avoid complications in terms of logistic with regards to reaching the Kunene River Mouth.

Collection method and materials
After an approval was given by the permanent secretary, on Monday the 30 September 2013 a team of five staff, consisting of three (Ngulu A., Ekandjo M.N. and Le Diep Lan) from Ongediva and two (Ndikwetepo O. and Le Thien Ly) from Onavivi offices respectively, travelled to Otjinugua/Marienfluss, some 300 km downstream of Epupa Falls. On the second day (Tuesday the 01/10/2013), the team arrived at Otjinugua and immediately set about 83 traps of different types. These consisted of sixty (60) made out of Coca-Cola bottles, twenty (20) made out of pipes, two funnels made out of shade nets and one big trap using a paraffin lamp to attract the prey. Setting was done for three days. And the duration was twelve hours, i.e 18-17 hours in the afternoon and retrieved at 6-hours early morning. Traps were set along the reeds on either banks of the river.

Environmental parameters were recorded at 6.30 Am and at 5.30 Pm from during 2nd to 4th of October. On the first day, the water level was moderately low, just about 1.3 m. during the two consecutive days, water levels raised to above 2 m. This was due to the effect of the Ruacana Hydropower Scheme that started operation on Monday the 30th.

On the first day of retrieving, a total of eight prawns. These were all caught by the pipe made traps. On the second day of retrieving; only two prawns were caught, still by the pipe made traps. On the last day, nothing was caught. Therefore a total of ten prawns were caught of which one was very young. All the ten prawn caught died in the third day due to lack of dissolved oxygen in the water container where they were kept. There was no much effort made to aerate the container.

Temperature range from 25 ± 0.5 in the morning and 27 ± 05 in the afternoon. PH range from 7.2 ± 0.2 to 7.6 ± 0.2. Sample of phytoplankton where also collected, however it not yet send to Swakopmund for analysis.

1. Although the objective of this trip (to collect about 1000 prawn brooders) was not achieved, on the science background, collecting about ten prawns at that specific site was an achievement. Apart from a single prawn recorded in 2009, to the author’s knowledge there are no documentations that indicate the presence of prawns in that stretch of the Kunene River.
2. The pipe-made traps were effective in collecting prawns, as they were the only type that managed to catch prawns at that site, as compared to other types of traps employed.
3. This was more like a fact finding mission (are the African fresh water prawns widely distributed throughout the Kunene River?) then a trip to collect brooders.

1. Given the findings from this trip, it can be recommended that, the Kunene River Mouth should be the suitable site for easy collection of Prawn Brooders
2. The effective trap to be used should be that made out of a pipe.
3. The annual fisheries biological survey should also include traps to sample the Kunene River stretch of the presence of prawns at various river reach.
4. Proper planning with recognition of local knowledge should always be put into consideration in future to avoid the repetition of this
Setting Prawn traps
Collecting traps
Keeping collected prawn

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Farewell to our Vietnamese Aquaculture Expert and Friend: Mr. Ngo Sy Van

Vietnamese Expert, Mr. Ngo Sy Van in the middle with his friends and colleagues from KIFI
Staff at Kamutjonga Inland Fisheries Institute (KIFI) had to say good buy to a good friend and colleague in Mr. Ngo Sy Van when his contract with the South South Cooperation expired on the 12th of November 2013. 

Ngo Sy Van worked for 3 years as a Vietnamese Aquaculture Technical Expert in the Directorate of Aquaculture. He was stationed at KIFI for most of this time. KIFI staff will remember him for his outgoing personality and hard work. 

We wish you the very best and may God bless you and your family. KIFI will not be the same without you ...!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

International Freshwater Aquaculture Training Report: Sukamandi, West Java, Indonesia: Sept-Oct 2013

Research Institute for Fish Breeding (RIFB), Sukamandi


International Freshwater Aquaculture Training

28 September to 13 October 2013

Research Institute of Fish Breeding (RIFB), Sukamandi, West Java, Indonesia


The training was conducted at the Research Institute of Fish Breeding (RIFB), at Sukamandi. The training is part of the South – South Cooperation (SSC) under FAO, were participants hailed from Africa, Asia and Oceania. Through FAO – SSC program, there is a memorandum of understanding on technical assistants and capacity building, skills transfer to 3rd world countries.

The objective of the training program was, aquaculture technology transfer and equipping technical staff members with skills and knowledge on selective breeding programs.

Brief outline of Research Institute:

Research Institute of Fish Breeding (RIFB), is mandated to:

1.    Produce Genetically Modified Broodstock and seed of various species (prawn, tilapia, catfish)

2.    Distribute the seed (product) to the farmers (users)

There is a mutual understanding between the farmers and RIFB, whereby initially the institute supplies fry for free to the farmer and in return accurate and valuable data on set intervals. This data, once analysed forms basis for grow – out production of fish in various environments coupled with the centre based research.

The institution has 5 breeding programs (headed by promoter supported by researchers and technical assistants) namely; Pangasiid catfish, Clariid catfish, Tilapia, Common carp and Freshwater Prawn. Under those programs, all aspects of aquaculture are covered, including: Broodstock Management, Seed production, hatchery operations, Grow – out Management, Nutrition and Health Management. Each program has its own supporting structures namely; hatchery, rearing, nursing and grow – out facilities (earth ponds).

The highly informative and educational lectures were taught by qualified researchers from various breeding programs, and specializing in aspects of aquaculture based at RIFB and other institutions.


There are five main species being researched on and improved upon mainly;

1.    Tilapia ( Freshwater and Saline), Oreochromis niloticus, O. aureus, O. mosambicus

2.    Pangasiid Catfish, Pangasius hypophthalmus & P. djambal

1.    African Catfish, Clarias garipinus

2.    Giant Freshwater Prawn , Macrobracium rosengbergii

3.    Common carp, Cyprinus carpio

During the research activities the centre focus on desired traits of fast growth, salinity tolerance, disease resistance and flesh quality (white) in several species, as shown in Table 1. To date from the breeding programs two species are available for commercial aquaculture, white flesh Pangasiid catfish – “Patin Pasupati” (2006) and high salinity (30ppt) tolerant Tilapia, “SRIKANDI” (2012).

Table 1: Desired traits and methods used

Method (s)
Pangasiid catfish
F1 Transgenic Heterozygous

Family Selection
7.16% Selection response

Flesh Quality (White)
White flesh catfish launched for aquaculture 2006
Salinity tolerance and growth
Hybridization (interspecific)

Salinity tolerance and growth
Family Selection
12.22% (est) Selection response

Disease resistance (Streptococcus agalactiae)
MCH I (alfa) and MCH II marker (specific primer)
Common Carp
Growth and Disease Resistance (KHV)
Individual Selection
7.27%  genetic gain

Disease Resistance (KHV)
F1 Transgenic heterozygous
Clariid catfish
Mass selection
G1: 20.58% genetic gain for body weight
G2: 11.79% genetic gain for body weight

F2 Transgenic Heterozygous (2 fold growth)
Freshwater Prawn
Individual Selection
18.62% Genetic gain after 4 generations

Rice cum fish culture

This form of aquaculture is mostly practiced in rural areas, since 1860. It is environmental friendly and socio – economically viable. During this culture, one crop of rice, results in 2 crops of fish / prawn.

Practical Activities

1.    Physiological and Genetic Laboratory - Transgenic Fish gene transfer using electroporation.

2.    Introduced to various equipment such as the  Automatic DNA / RNA Extraction processor, Thermal cycle and Real Time PCR( DNA / RNA analysis) , Horizontal and vertical electrophoresis (molecular marker analysis and protein analysis) , electroporator (gene transfer),  and acoustic flow cytometer (ploidy, microbiology ) amongst others.

3.    Nursery and grow – out management of Pangasiid

4.    Pangasiid Broodstock selection, hormonal treatment, stripping, fertilization and artificial incubation.

Catfish gonadectomy

Catfish breeding, the male catfish testes are only cut 75%, the male is sewed up and kept in isolation for 4 weeks. Partial gonadectomy of male catfish (Clarias garipinus), for further information read paper by O.T. Adebayo*, E.A. Fasakin, J.A. Adewumi, (2011), Reproductive performance of partial gonadectomised male African Catfish, Clarias gariepinus broodstocks, Elsevier.

Saline Tilapia

The Nile Tilapia is transformed into saline tilapia by gene manipulation, derived from 8 different strains of tilapia. Growth supplement, DNA vaccine and Salinity gene marker – stress supplement techniques are applied. The saline tilapia hybrid locally known as SRIKANDI can withstand salinity up to 35ppt. Saline tilapia have higher DHA (Omega 3 FA), no mud odour and more delicious. It also shows good growth as due to high salinity, there is limited reproduction and all energy converted to growth. The best saline tilapia is a strain derived from O.aures and O. niloticus (Nirwana).

The saline tilapia reach marketable size in 3 months of rearing whereas the local tilapia takes 5 – 6 months. The ready saline tilapia larvae / fry, from RIFB are distributed to the backyard hatchery or local fisheries department and finally to grow – out farmer.

Field Visit

    A.  Cage culture, Jatiluhur

Culture of tilapia and common carp in man-made reservoir. Interesting design is being used of double netting (top net host common carp and bottom net tilapia), all uneaten feed by common carp is consumed by the tilapia.

b  B.   Backyard Hatchery

The backyard hatchery design varies with farmer, based on skills and resources at hand. In order to operate the hatchery, the farmers are trained on aquaculture technology of fish nursing / hatchery and marketing. Whereby the breeding station sells larvae to the farmer at reasonable price.

About 40 million Pangasiid larvae per year are produced at the breeding station, then distributed to the farmers with backyard hatcheries. The fry are grown for 20 days at 35 ͦC and sold to grow – out farmers at 150 IDR (15 cents/piece). Greater number of the backyard hatcheries do not utilize external heat source, rather heavy line the hatchery with plastic, limiting heat movement (like greenhouse).

The fish are given feed in three stages during the 20 days period, as follows:

Type of Feed
5 days
6 days
Pellet (30-40% CP)
9 days


Given, we are starting with Oreochromis andersonii tilapia breeding program, the information and skills learned will be a valuable addition in realisation and success of the endeavour. This course is vital for developing aquaculture countries to improve production and engage intensive culturing system and do breeding programs.

Apart from the theoretical knowledge and skills acquired, we learned more about Indonesian Culture, as well as off all other participants. Vital networks have been established with the RIFB researchers as well with the participants, a platform where information will be shared on aquaculture development.

In order to enhance capacity, skills training should continue but more in form of hands-on participation at farm level for extended period, be it in Africa or worldwide. I would like to thank MFMR, FAO – SSC and RIFB for affording me the opportunity to learn this vital skills to improve aquaculture development in Namibia.

Figure 1 and 2: Participants at RIFB, Sukamandi – official opening with FAO Rep Dr. Musaraf (sided –centre) and Dr. Imrod Nawawi (sited – far right) – RIFB’s Director

Figure 3 and 4 : Award ceremony and gifting to RIFB staff from Trainees

Figure 5 and 6 : Class participation and practicals at RIFB

Figure 6 and 7 : Physiological and Genetic Laboratory practicals at RIFB – Transgenic fish using Electroporation.


Figure 8 and 9 : Group discussion

Figure 10 and 11: Cage farming in artificial dam and induced spawning of Pangasiid catfish

Figure 12 and 13 : Backyard hatchery for Pangasiid larvae
Figure 14  and 15 : Leisure times, Panah (centre) birthday and prawn day