Last Update: September 2016

Farmed tilapia is one of the major farmed whitefish species traded globally. A large proportion of exported tilapia comes from China, but other regional producers include Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines, although the majority of their production is consumed locally. The main issues in tilapia farming include food safety (through farming and post harvesting practices), management of public water quality, the lack of zonal disease management, marine feed ingredient sourcing, and continued opportunities for small-scale producers. SFP is working with major importers to initiate aquaculture improvement projects that tackle issues both along individual supply chains and in the wider industry.


Current Participants:

Fishin’ Co


Hainan Tilapia Sustainability Alliance (producer group)


List of all AIPs covered by the SR:

Chinese Tilapia AIP (Hainan)


Priority Region for AIP Initiation:

Lower Mekong Region

Central Thailand

Mainland China

Taal Lake, Indonesia 

SR-level improvement recommendations:

  • Encourage suppliers to formally participate in the Asia Tilapia SR
  • Ask suppliers for transparency on the provinces they are sourcing tilapia from (so that FishSource assessments can be developed for relevant provinces)
  • Identify entry points to start AIPs using one of the four types of improvement models being used by industry to improve aquaculture practices. Each model can be used individually, but they may also build off one another to ultimately lead to a full zonal aquaculture improvement project (AIP):


1.Group certification to BAP/GGAP/ASC

Example: National Fish & Seafood efforts

National Fish has launched four small farm group pilots for the purpose of bringing small shareholder shrimp farmers up to the internationally recognized aquaculture standard for certification under the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification program. For now, the focus is on bringing the farms in line with BAP certification and not on the broader (zonal) impacts. The group certification model does, however, include the need for an internal control system between the farms, so drives the need for some initial cooperation between the farms.

2. Core farm to create zone pilot

Example: Beaver Street Fisheries efforts

Beaver Street has identified a group of farms around its core supplying farm (which is already certified, but its neighbors are not) to work with on data sharing between farms on disease issues and water quality. It does not include all the farms in the region, but it is a good place to start a dialogue among neighboring farms and, it is hoped, will lead to a producer association more formally coordinating issues such as stocking and fallowing in order to further minimize disease risks.

3. Full zone to BAP certification

Pilots will include an area of tilapia farmers in Hainan, shrimp farmers in the Gulf of Fonseca, and salmon farmers in Atlantic Canada

This approach will have a minimum requirement that the majority of farms in an identified watershed participate in coordinated stocking, fallowing, disease treatment, and information sharing to ensure disease mitigation. This is an industry-driven approach – it does not formally involve regulators –toward “area management” and is initially focused on disease management. Later evolutions of the standard will cover water quality and eventually feed, labor, and other issues for standardization across industries.  

4. Full AIP (industry association/province level)

Example: Hainan Tilapia AIP

This type of improvement project needs the buy-in and participation of an industry association to develop and implement good practices by which all participants agree to abide, including those that would minimize disease risks and environmental impacts. The association will need to get the attention of government and research institutions to work with it. The overall goal is to bring good practices into effective industry planning and wider evidence-based policy around responsible feed ingredient sourcing, disease management, and environmental quality.


Objective of SR:

  • Minimize disease risks and environmental impacts of the tilapia industry through the initiation of multi-stakeholder aquaculture improvement projects, including the engagement of small-scale producers.
  • Improve traceability of final products and transparency of inputs particularly on the sources of fishmeal.


Progress Update:


SFP-initiated AIP in Hainan, China transitioned to industry-leadership


SuperIndo started evaluating potential zones from their tilapia supplier.

Superindo began the process of establishing a tilapia AIP in Indonesia.


Hainan Tilapia Sustainability Alliance (HTSA) trains 1,000 farmers on best practices.

HTSA publishes summary of first Sustainability Report (in Chinese)

Superindo continue training individual farms towards Indonesia national standard (CBIB), but have not established a specific AIP


SR Meetings:

Past Meetings

Seafood Expo (Boston), March 2014 – Introduced Hainan Tilapia AIP

Qingdao Seafood Expo, November 2014 – Promoted AIP activities in Hainan to processors in other provinces

Post-GOAL 2016 – meetings took place in Hainan with producers, processors and donors to review AIP progress and plan for future activities


Planned Meetings

2016 – One-on-one meetings planned with retailers and their suppliers