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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7537
JPY
USD
103.79
GBP
USD
0.6032
CAD
USD
1.0957
INR
USD
60.522

Rates may not be current.