Brazilian Amazon: Ornamental Fish
The Amazonian export trade in ornamental fish is estimated at over US $100 million annually, yet there is currently very little regulation or monitoring of this trade and its environmental impact.
Aquarium fish are the most popular pets worldwide and the global industry in 1999 was estimated to be worth $3 billion in annual retail sales. Freshwater species make up 90% of the trade value, and around 10% of this number is wild caught.
In 2005, ZSL was awarded funding from the UK government’s Darwin Initiative to set up a new conservation project in the varzeá flooded forest ecosystem of the Brazilian Amazon.
In association with Sociedade Civil Mamirauá, ZSL helped work towards maintaining the biodiversity of ornamental fish within the Amazon by developing a pilot project in the Mamirauá and Amaná Sustainable Development Reserves (MSDR).
The pilot aimed to establish best practice guidelines that could be adopted for a certification system within this, and other, Amazonian regions, thus providing a mechanism for improved control of the trade in ornamental fish and therefore a sustainable ornamental fish trade.
It was planned that the introduction of such a trade would result in direct economic benefits to the rural community and the monetary value, along with the establishment of a sustainable system, would ensure the long-term protection of fish diversity within the reserve.
Incentives from this project are to be considered as alternative or additional sources of income to the local traditional economy (and not substitutes). Consequently, the food-fishery and farming practised by the MSDR community will remain the primary economic activities.
This successful project formed one of a number of economic activities developed within MSDR since 1998 that seek to manage the growing pressure on the reserve’s natural resources.