Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 20, Issue 9, pp 1951–1971 | Cite as

Fisheries and trade of seahorses in Brazil: historical perspective, current trends, and future directions

  • Ierecê L. Rosa
  • Tacyana P. R. Oliveira
  • Frederico M. Osório
  • Luiz E. Moraes
  • André L. C. Castro
  • Glaura M. L. Barros
  • Rômulo R. N. Alves
Original Paper


Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) are globally threatened by overexploitation and habitat destruction; they are also regarded as susceptible to heavy exploitation due to some of their life-history traits. From an economic perspective, they are fishes with high monetary value and marketability. Seahorses are now listed in Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), to ensure that the international trade is not detrimental to the survival of wild populations; the effectiveness evaluation of these international controls needs comparable monitoring data, including evaluation of spatial and temporal trends. This study assesses the seahorse trade in Brazil, aiming to detect trends in catch levels, volumes and prices. Our main findings were: the dried trade was unregulated, without formal records, and primarily domestic, although records of unreported exports existed; it was primarily sustained by incidental captures in trawl nets. The live seahorse trade was mainly destined for exports, and regulated through national quotas. Between 2002 and 2009, mean prices for dried seahorses ranged from US$1.06 ± 0.46 (level 1 traders) to US$2.78 ± 0.68 (end-sellers) each, while mean prices for each live seahorse traded on the domestic market (1997–2009) ranged from US$1.13 ± 0.02 (level 1 traders) to US$10.08 ± 1.71 (retailers). Mean declared export price (2006–2008) was 15.57 ± 10.87. Enhanced implementation of the CITES listing in Brazil will require further research, and additional measures to address both direct and indirect fishing pressure on seahorse populations.


Brazil CITES National controls Seahorse fishery and trade Conservation 



The first author wishes to thank Julia Baum (University of California) and Amanda Vincent (Project Seahorse), for their support and encouragement. We thank PADI Foundation, and PROBIO/MMA/IBRD/GEF/CNPq for financial support which allowed the collection of data; CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior) provided a Ph.D. scholarship to A. L. C. Castro and to T. P. R. Oliveira, CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) provided research fellowships to I. L. Rosa and to R. R. N. Alves. Thanks are also due to Henrique Anatole (IBAMA) for providing access to official trade records. Special thanks are due to Ana Torres and Luiz Fernando (CEPSUL), and Antônio P. Clerton (CEPENE), for their invaluable support, and to our great PROBIO partners: Mara N. Carvalho (MPA), Alesandra B. Birolo (Ekko Brasil), Maria Elisabeth Araújo (UFPE), Adrianne Barros (UEPB), and Cassiano Monteiro-Neto (UFF). Lastly, we would like to thank all those who made time to provide us with information on the seahorse trade: Claúdio L. S. Sampaio, José de Anchieta Nunes, and the many interviewees we met along the way.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ierecê L. Rosa
    • 1
  • Tacyana P. R. Oliveira
    • 1
  • Frederico M. Osório
    • 2
  • Luiz E. Moraes
    • 3
  • André L. C. Castro
    • 1
  • Glaura M. L. Barros
    • 4
  • Rômulo R. N. Alves
    • 5
  1. 1.Departamento de Sistemática e Ecologia, Centro de Ciências Exatas e da NaturezaUniversidade Federal da Paraíba (UFPB)João PessoaBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (IBAMA), Superintendência do Ibama no Rio Grande do NorteRio Grande do NorteBrazil
  3. 3.Instituto de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE)São PauloBrazil
  4. 4.Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (IBAMA), Superintendência do Ibama no CearáCearáBrazil
  5. 5.Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Estadual da Paraíba (UEPB)ParaíbaBrazil

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