Tilapia control and management

Project Leader: John Russell, Qld DEEDI

Aim: To collect baseline information on tilapia populations in the wild in Queensland

Projects:  4.f.10

Project summary

This project aims to:

  • collect critical ecological and life history data to enable implementation of successful control strategies and assist in the planning of education and extension programs within the Department.
  • model and evaluate a range of management scenarios that can be used for the control of tilapia in Australia.
  • provide recommendations and participates in the development of control strategies for tilapia in Queensland.

Tilapia were introduced into Queensland in the late 1970s. They have also been introduced into Western Australia, Papua New Guinea and selected Pacific Islands. In the last five years tilapia have spread significantly throughout Queensland waters and are now seriously threatening invasion of the Murray-Darling Basin. Critical population data are needed to inform a tilapia control strategy, and assess any ‘Achilles’ heel’ which may be exploited for control.

Key achievements

  • Baseline information was collected on tilapia populations (Tilapia mariae (black mangrove cichlid) and Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique mouth brooder) in the wild in Queensland.
  • From September 2006 to December 2008, field sampling for this project caught 6,045 tilapia, providing critical ecological and life history data on these species.
  • Since mid-2007, CarpSim 2.0 software has been extensively modified to improve its utility and its capacity to be used for other fish species including tilapia. The CarpSim model now allows for the simulation of a number of management interventions including fishing, poisoning, recruitment sabotage, predation (on juveniles and adults) and removal of females through the use of ‘daughterless technology’. Simultaneous use of some of these management interventions can also be modelled.
  • An integrated management experiment in the Herberton Weir continued in 2008-09 and has proved successful in reducing tilapia numbers.

Key deliverables

  • Final reporting on the phase 1 project is currently underway and a phase 2 project is planned.

Project partners

IA CRC, Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Victorian Department of Primary Industries.

Further information

Russell DJ, Thuesen PA and Thomson FE (2009 in press) Development of management strategies for the control and eradication of feral tilapia populations in Australia. Report of the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation and the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre.

Russell DJ and Thuesen P (2009 in prep) Simulation modelling of wild tilapia Oreochromis mossambicus and Tilapia mariae population dynamics, with applications to pest control.

Russell DJ and Thuesen P (2009 in prep) Age and growth of two tilapia species Oreochromis mossambicus (Peters 1852) and Tilapia mariae (Boulenger 1899) in northern Australia.

Russell DJ and Thuesen P (2009 in prep) Reproductive strategies of two tilapia species Oreochromis mossambicus (Peters 1852) and Tilapia mariae (Boulenger 1899) in northern Australia.

For further information, contact us.