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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

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

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9220
JPY
USD
119.88
GBP
USD
0.6757
CAD
USD
1.2640
INR
USD
62.626

Rates may not be current.