Aphanius Dispar fish to assist in effective mosquito control

Aphanius Dispar fish to assist in effective mosquito control

Desert Killifish has become an eco-friendly and economical tool for the civic body’s Pest Control Department in combating mosquito larvae.

A locally farmed fish called Aphanius Dispar is being touted as the new superhero that will protect the environment and save millions for the Dubai Municipality in its fight against mosquitoes in Dubai’s farms and water bodies.

Also known as Desert Killifish, this tiny fish has become an eco-friendly and economical tool for the civic body’s Pest Control Department in combating mosquito larvae that breed in irrigation basins and water bodies in different areas across the emirate.

Officials estimate the fish will help save Dh3.5million when bred in about 1,400 farms and nearly 300 water bodies in the emirate, instead of using chemical pesticides that can harm the environment and human beings.

Hisham Abdul Rahman Yahya, head of Pest Control Section, Dr Mahi Gibran, Public Health Studies specialist, and Ali Obaid Bakhit, head of Technical Services Unit, came up with idea for the project a few months back. It won the ‘best suggestion award’ in the field of green applications at the second UAE Ideas Conference 2013.

“There are areas where stagnant water collects because of the flow of groundwater, rain, artificial lakes and water leaks from sewage, which lead to mosquito breeding in these areas as well as in irrigation tanks,” Yahya said in a Press statement on Tuesday. He said using insecticides to eliminate insects and their larvae continuously was costly, as it required manual labour to apply it, aside from the chemical seeping into soil and groundwater.

“The effects of pesticide on groundwater, and other damage related to public health and safety, include contamination of groundwater, pollution of environment and harm to the health and safety of the public as a result of inhaling the vapour of pesticides. It also causes poisoning of workers as a result of close contact with pesticides that enter the body through the skin or mouth or breathing.”

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Dr Gibran said the civic body will save the amount that is required to use pesticides to control mosquitoes. “It is important that fish breeding is done regularly to maintain the benefit of the project. Since breeding is a biological process, we cannot set a time-frame for covering all the farms and water bodies.”

Assistant Director-General for Environmental and Public Health Services Sector at Dubai Municipality, Salah Amiri, and the Director of Public Health Services Department, Dr Zuhoor Al Sabbagh, have personally supervised the most important stages of the project.

These include the construction of fishponds, and contracting with a company specialised in fish farming in order to produce the fish in large quantities to cover all irrigation ponds in farms and watersheds.

Dr Al Sabbagh praised the efforts of all participants in this feasible proposal in terms of economic and health aspects. She said the department plans to develop the proposal through breeding other types of fish to be used in the field of pest control, and the production of large quantities of fish to cover all basins in farms and water pools in Dubai, with an estimated cost of Dh102,000.

“The proposal also contributes in developing green projects and increase employee satisfaction through a comfortable work environment, reducing time and effort and improving the environment, public health and safety. It helps reduce the contamination of soil and groundwater, controls the prevalence of diseases and epidemics due to the proliferation of mosquitoes,” she said.


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