x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Making a meal of it: Dubai turns to fish that eats mosquito larvae

Dubai plans huge breeding programme for fish that feeds on mosquito larvae in an effort to cut down on the pests.

DUBAI // A fish that eats mosquito larvae is the latest recruit in Dubai's efforts to eradicate the insects.

By putting the Aphanius sp into irrigation tanks in farms, artificial lakes and groundwater collections, the municipality hopes to cut its dependency on pesticide in its battle against the insects.

It plans to distribute between 3,000 to 5,000 fish every month to 1,394 irrigation tanks in farms and 292 other bodies of water including artificial lakes, lagoons and groundwater collections.

Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai Silicon Oasis and International City are among the areas that will receive populations of the fish.

"We want to control the mosquitos at the breeding phase, inside the water, therefore we came to think of this project," said Dr El Mahi Gubran, a public health and pest studies specialist at Dubai Municipality.

"The UAE has been declared malaria-free by the World Health Organisation, so our challenge is to maintain this," said Dr Gubran.

The project will also help the municipality cut its use of pesticide, which is both expensive and harmful to the environment.

About 1,000 fish have been distributed across the emirate over the past eight months in a run-up to the full implementation of the scheme.

When the programme starts in earnest, two teams of three municipality workers will distribute the fish.

The fish will be bred in four tanks by a private company.

wissa@thenational.ae