Kitchen ladies filleting tilapia.Last month, CEI conducted its first tilapia harvest since March 2013.  This exciting process began on Sunday morning when 160 tilapia were selected for harvest for an Island School parent’s weekend meal and a fundraising event in Nassau. All of the fish were within the ideal harvest size range and were selected from our current stock of over 3000 fish. They were then placed in a holding tank and were not fed over the next 48 hours to clear their digestive tracts of food and waste, thus lending to a more sterile process.  On Tuesday morning, the process began when the fish were removed from their tank and humanely euthanized by being netted into an ice water slurry.  These fish were then transported to the kitchen and were filleted by a team of researchers and kitchen staff.  

Students from the Early Learning Center learn about tilapia from Whitney.

Each whole fish and the resulting filets were weighed to calculate which sized fish produced the highest percent yield.  This helped determine a more accurate target harvest weight and will cut down on wasted feed resources in the future.  The entire process took approximately 6 hours from start to finish. During the harvest, the tilapias got a visit from the little Cape Eleuthera Early Learning Center kids who were learning a bit about tilapia.  During their visit they got to touch a few of the fish, then sat down with their teacher and a special guest, a tilapia, to have a visual drawing session and a mini presentation to their classmates of what they’ve drawn.  As more tilapia are raised in the aquaponics system, one of the goals is to continue to use the system as an educational resource for visitors and students that are enrolled in The Island School and the Early Learning Center.  Ideally, the aquaponics team is striving to provide a sustainable and local meal for CEI and Island School’s cafeteria as frequently as once a week. At the aforementioned event in Nassau, the provided tilapia were served in three ways- grilled, smoked, and as sushi, showing the range of ways that tilapia can be prepared.