Project Piaba -- towards a sustainable ornamental fishery in the Amazon
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Fishes and aquaticenvironments are often overlooked in conservation and sustainabledevelopment projects in Amazonia, yet the diversity of fishes(> 3 000 species) and the socio-economic value of thefisheries and the aquatic habitats have a great importance forthe region. Fishes are not only the principal source of proteinfor local people (> 70 kg/capita), many are also traded asornamental fishes in a worldwide market. The middle Rio Negrobasin is the major fishing grounds for live ornamental aquariumfish. Nearly 20 million live fishes are exported from the regionannually, generating more than US$ 2 000 000 annually forthe local economy. The trade in ornamental fish now contributesover 60% of the income revenue in the municipality. The goal ofProject Piaba is to promote an economically viable fishery forlocal fishers, and an ecologically sustainable resource for agreen aquarium industry. To arrive at these goals first requiresan understanding of the ecosystems and sociocultural systems ofconcern. The Project Piaba team has made baseline studies on thediversity of fishes and habitats, and socio-economic processes ofthe ornamental fishery. Five principal project goals are:
(1) To collect baseline data on the ecosystem, socio-economy and diversity of fishes, to analyze the impact of the ornamental fish trade on social and natural environments.
(2) To diagnose diseases, to introduce fish care techniques, to improve the survival and quality of fishes and turtles, and eventually to establish quarantine protocols at each level of the trade.
(3) To provide environmental education and socio-cultural history to local fishers, distributors and public, and to promote career development in aquarium science and conservation.
(4) To create community based fishery management strategies which would include managed harvest levels, stock enhancement of fishes and turtles and the development of aquaculture.
(5) To assist in the revision of policies by regulatory agencies in order to protect vulnerable species and enhance the economic viability of the region
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