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Neotropical Ichthyology

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AZEVEDO-SANTOS, Valter Monteiro de; RIGOLIN-SA, Odila  and  PELICICE, Fernando Mayer. Growing, losing or introducing? Cage aquaculture as a vector for the introduction of non-native fish in Furnas Reservoir, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Neotrop. ichthyol. [online]. 2011, vol.9, n.4, pp.915-919. ISSN 1679-6225.

Cage aquaculture has been developed in many countries, including Brazil. This form of production, although economically productive, may cause several impacts to the environment. Considering the historical relationship between aquaculture and species introduction, our study investigated the potential of cage aquaculture in spreading non-native species into hydroelectric reservoirs. We interviewed 19 fish farmers in Furnas Reservoir, Grande River basin. All producers have grown exclusively Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), an African fish, and all producers reported the occurrence of fish escapes. Releases were mainly accidental, but highly frequent during some management procedures, such as length classification, fish capture and juvenile stocking. Escapes were also reported due to cage damage and deliberate releases. These results indicate that, in cage aquaculture facilities, fish are frequently released to the external environment. When raising non-native species (e.g. Furnas Reservoir), these facilities constitute an important vector for fish introductions.

Keywords : Escapes; Introduced fish; Management; Neotropic; Oreochromis niloticus; Tilapia.

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