Fish produced for consumption should be harvested when they reach market size. In Kenya, tilapia are ready for harvesting within six to nine months depending on the size at stocking, target harvest size, water temperature and level of management employed. The time of harvesting is determined through regular sampling which should be done monthly.
A day or two before harvesting, feeding and fertilizer application should be stopped.
- Fish should be checked for off flavours
- Fish should be harvested during cool weather (early morning or late evening)
- Harvesting and transportation equipment should be set up well in advance to ensure reduced stress and minimal fish mortality.
Tilapias are best harvested by seining for partial harvesting and complete drainage for complete harvesting.
Pond harvesting can be partial which involves removal of part of the fish stocked from a fish pond and the rest allowed to continue growing. Complete harvesting involves removal of all the fish stocked from the pond.
Equipment required in harvesting fish include, seine nets, scoop nets, clean plastic buckets and baskets, clean source of water and clean fish storage containers.
Once harvested, fish should be handled with care and transported to the market while still fresh.
Where the fish are not destined for immediate sale, simple processing at the farm level can greatly reduce post harvest losses.
Simple processing would include:
i). Gutting and scaling
ii). Sun drying
vi). Deep freezing
It is important to note that the type of processing will be determined by market preferences.