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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 October 2007, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Call to breed fish in farm barns
Tilapia could provide an alternative to cod or trout
Researchers are encouraging farmers to grow fish in unused barns as a way of boosting their income.

A three-year study at the University of Stirling found rearing tilapia could be a cheap and profitable way for farmers to diversify.

The project, developed by the university's aqua institute, uses a new type of water system for the small scale production of the tropical fish.

Unlike salmon, which can take 18 months to reach market, tilapia only take six.

The new water system is specifically designed for tilapia, which can thrive on a herbivorous or carnivorous diet.

Gastro pubs

Researchers believe that with its white flesh and mild taste, tilapia is a suitable substitute for over-fished wild fish stocks such as cod.

Kathleen Boyd from the university's aqua institute said: "We are encouraging farmers to produce local food in an environmentally-friendly manner, using available and under-utilised farm buildings.

"Through exploring this additional income earning opportunity over a three year period, we hope to develop a better understanding of the challenges that face rural areas in the UK."

The project team carried out market surveys throughout the UK to identify niche markets for fresh tilapia and said it would be popular among ethnic and green consumers as well as gastro pubs.

The project is funded by the Rural Economy and Land Use programme (RELU).

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