News / Economy

Aquarium Fish Breeding Program Improves Livelihoods in Cameroon

World Bank-sponsored initiative taps into global ornamental fish industry believed to be worth around $570 million

Aquarium Fish Breeding Program Improves Livelihoods in Cameroon
Aquarium Fish Breeding Program Improves Livelihoods in Cameroon
Kate Thomas

A sustainable aquarium fish-breeding program backed by the World Bank and World Fish Center is improving living conditions for villagers in Cameroon.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans collect exotic aquarium fish and the the global ornamental fish industry is believed to be worth around $570 million.  Many species of popular aquarium fish come from West Africa, specifically the Lower Guinean rain-forest in Cameroon.

Though some species of ornamental fish have been successfully bred in states such as Florida, a sustainable fish-breeding project backed by the World Fish Center is improving livelihoods in rural parts of Cameroon.

Randall Brummett is a senior scientist in Cameroon with the World Fish Center.

"We have set up a network of fishing communities around Southern and Central Cameroon.  Many of the people have small ponds and have been taking part in all different kinds of training programs to improve their handling of the fish," Brummett said.

The World Fish Center's program is the first initiative to pay fishers fair wages.  Brummett said in the past aquarium fish exporters focused too heavily on imagined high profit margins and did not pay enough attention to the care of the fish.

Species such as the shimmering epiplatys, striped barbus jae and the red-toothed pungu are collected in streams and river basins with hand-held nets.  Fishers receive up to 20 cents for each fish.  The catch is then shipped to the United States or Europe for sale in pet stores and specialist aquatic shops.

Brummett said most of the species collected thrive in Cameroon's warm waters.

"Virtually all of them are endemic to the Lower Guinean rain-forest," he said.

The program, which aims to revitalize the local industry, was launched after Brummett received a phone call from a veterinarian at the main airport in Paris.

"The veterinarian at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris called me up one day and said, 'I am constantly getting shipments of ornamental fish from Cameroon and they arrive 90 percent dead," Brummett said.

Aquarium fish companies are paid for the number of live fish that arrive in each shipment. Brummett noticed that many of the companies would hold fish in plastic bags for up to two weeks, compromising their health and mortality rate.

Some funding has been provided by the World Bank for the World Fish Center's project, which aims for a low mortality rate while also sensitizing local authorities on the value of rain-forest river ecosystems and lobbying for their protection.

Brummett said the fish collection areas are spread out all over Cameroon, from the slopes of Mount Cameroon to the borders with Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

"It is important to go and visit all these sites and collect all the fish, but you have to have a storage facility that is big enough to hold fish for a month or two," he said.

The current storage facility, operated in conjunction with the sustainable aquarium fish company Gulf Aquatics, which grew out of the project, is not big enough to hold the amount of fish supplied.  Brummett said the project is lacking funds to reach completion.

"We are trying to expand the program so that rural communities get the most amount of money as possible.  That means cutting out the middleman and lowering profit margins at the center to build a minimum acceptable level," Brummett said.

The initiative's success has been easy to measure.  Many of the companies that paid poor wages have closed after being unable to compete with the survival rate of the World Fish Center's project.

Brummett said the program means that fishers receive a fair wage that allows them to pay for healthcare and school fees, as well as daily living costs.

"They make about five or six times more than they used to, the main reason being that our survival rate is up to over 90 percent now," he said.

The project has improved the quality of life for the aquarium fish that end up in tanks across America, and for the Cameroonian fishers who collect them.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8845
JPY
USD
117.71
GBP
USD
0.6643
CAD
USD
1.2669
INR
USD
62.019

Rates may not be current.