Invasive Tilapia: Defeating by Eating

Blue Tilapia

Blue Tilapia

This is Passport to Texas

When you hear the word tilapia, you may think of a savory meal with lemon and butter sauce, but you probably don’t think of the term “invasive species.”

11—The tilapia are great to eat. They’re raised as a food fish, and they’re quite tasty. They’re quite popular in restaurants. But the problem is when they’re in our natural waters they are upsetting the ecosystem.

Tilapia, found in Texas for decades, originally came here as a food source, and raised in fish farms. Eventually the fish ended up living wild in Texas waters.

What makes them invasive? Gary Garrett, former inland fisheries biologist with TPW, said tilapia pose a potential threat to largemouth bass and other native species.

16—They build big pit nests and in doing that they stir up a lot of the settlement. And it’s been shown, for example, with large mouth bass, all that sediment stirred up and settling back down will often kill largemouth bass eggs.

When the tilapia does this, they can potentially damage the entire ecosystem because of the intricate nature of the food chain.

Parks and Wildlife has state regulations for tilapia, but because they exist throughout Texas, they are difficult to control. But if you like to fish, Garrett says there is a way you can help.

03—Don’t throw them back. If you catch them, keep them.

Next time you catch a tilapia, turn on the grill and get cooking. You’ll be doing yourself and the Texas ecosystem a flavor.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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